Initial information meeting
This will provide information for patients new to the service. You will be given the opportunity to meet some of the professionals who work in the team and to ask questions. The approach of the service can be quite different to what people have experienced before – the focus is on improving quality of life and wellbeing rather than curing the pain medically. That is why it is often for the people who have been told that there is nothing further medically that can be done. This is your opportunity to decide if this is what you would like to work on, and whether now is the right time. You will be asked to ‘opt-in’ after the meeting if you would like to arrange a ‘one to one’ appointment with the service.
First ‘one to one’ appointment
If you opt in to the service, you will meet ‘one to one’ with a psychologist who specialises in persistent pain. This is an opportunity to talk in depth about the impact pain has had on your life and how you are currently coping. Together, you and the psychologist will create a plan for how the pain management service may be able to help you. See below for some of the services that might be offered.
What might be offered?
- Pain Management Programme: This is a group programme delivered by a team including a physiotherapist, occupational therapist and psychologist. You will meet once a week for 12 weeks. The aim is to develop a broad set of strategies for managing the impact of the pain on your physical, emotional and social wellbeing.
- Self-Management Programme: This is a group programme delivered by a member of the team and a lay tutor. You will meet once a week for eight weeks. There is no specific physiotherapy or exercise instruction in this programme so it is for people who are struggling less with mobility, and who are able to gradually introduce gentle movement and exercise without specialist physiotherapy input.
- 1:1 Physiotherapy: this is an individualised approach, focussing on the needs of each patient following an assessment. The main focus is to help with mobility, but a wide range of other issues can also be addressed.
- 1:1 Psychology: These are individual appointments with a psychologist who specialises in persistent pain. These are time limited and you will discuss the number of appointments that are going to be offered with your clinician. These will focus on psychological factors or barriers to managing your pain. For some patients, this involves having trauma-focused therapy when it is felt that trauma relates to the presentation of your pain.
- 1:1 Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists empower people to engage in activities of daily living. They are interested in understanding what motivates you to do different activities. If these activities are difficult or even seem impossible, an occupational therapist can support you in modifying or exploring alternative activities so that you live a meaningful and purposeful life. We will introduce you to a set of skills that will allow you to realise this.
- Mindfulness programme: Mindfulness is a form of meditation that has gained worldwide recognition in recent years, particularly in relation to heath and stress. It involves learning a number of techniques that are practised throughout the day and have been shown in numerous studies to improve an individual’s ability to cope. The techniques are based on simple meditation techniques that are linked with being more able to actively manage health conditions which cause pain and fatigue.
- Exercise programme: This is an eight week group exercise programme run by a physiotherapist. It involves being taught a range of gentle stretching techniques to improve flexibility throughout the whole body as well as ideas on how to increase balance and strength to improve function and confidence. The sessions also typically involve a short relaxation practice and an introduction to Tai Chi.
- Sleep programme: This is a six week group programme run by assistant psychologists. Its focus is to support people with persistent pain to get more refreshing sleep.
- Compassion focused therapy group: This is a psychologist-led 8 week programme (with an introductory session prior to ‘opting in’) focusing on developing self-compassion. The programme aims to provide a deeper understanding of biological systems involved in persistent pain experience and to directly link this understanding to acquiring tools for managing pain, primarily through helping you develop a more compassionate stance to yourself and your pain. The course will help you understand what ‘compassion’ is, how to build self-compassion and why this is important and helpful in the management of persistent pain. We look at mind and body connections and learn skills through practice of exercises and sharing experiences with each other within the group.
- Employment workshop: This is a one-off group meeting where you will be introduced to the legislation relating to employment and long term health conditions such as persistent pain. Ideas will be discussed about how to use self-management skills in the work place and how best to communicate your needs effectively to employers and colleagues. This is for people who are managing pain whilst in work and those who are keen to move towards returning to employment.