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Livewell Southwest launches first Wellbeing Club for people in Plymouth with leg ulcers

22nd June 2017

People in Plymouth suffering from leg ulcers have been taking part in a three-month pilot programme which saw medical treatment combined with activity sessions, chance to socialise and tips and advice on healthy lifestyles to improve recovery and help to prevent reoccurrence of leg ulcers.

The Wellbeing Club, run by Livewell Southwest in partnership with Plymouth Marjon University and Drake Medical Alliance Ltd, is the first programme of its kind in Plymouth, involving nurses from Livewell Southwest, healthcare assistants from general practice, sport and health science students and trainers from the Wellbeing Team who specialise in spreading the word on preventing illness by making healthy lifestyle choices.

The organisations worked collaboratively to provide a complete service for people with venous disease, in which the veins in the leg deteriorate leading to ulceration. Venous disease can have a number of causes; people who sit or stand for long periods of time can be prone to leg ulcers, as can intravenous drug users, while elderly people can be affected as they become more vulnerable and susceptible to various illnesses.

Typically, a person experiencing leg ulcers would be seen by a practice nurse or a district nurse at one of Plymouth’s two treatment clinics while housebound patients are seen by a district nurse at home, with a focus on wound care, dressing and bandaging.

The Wellbeing Club concept goes much further than this, enabling patients to meet weekly at Plymouth Marjon University to receive treatment, chat and share experiences over a cup of tea, get advice on healthy lifestyles and learn some useful chair-based exercises, to help promote healing and prevent reoccurrence.

Karen Lillie, treatment clinic team manager at Livewell Southwest, said: “It’s really important that, as well as having their dressings and bandages changed, people receive information and encouragement to make lifestyle choices, such as healthy eating and regular activity, which will be beneficial to their condition. Moving more helps circulation and healing, while being a healthy weight places less stress on joints and enables people to stay more mobile.

“Socialisation is also becoming increasingly important for the care of people experiencing leg ulcers. Historically, people with leg ulcers can be quite isolated due to the discomfort they experience, so it’s really nice for them to be able to attend a group like this and meet other people experiencing the same issues.”

Betty Williamson, 91, was a regular attendee and said she greatly enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to others. She said: “They’re lovely people, all of them, and I love having company like this. I’ll get my banner and vote for it!”

While there are similar clubs in operation nationally, this is the first of its kind for Plymouth and it is hoped that this new model of care will be commissioned to provide care to the wider population in the near future.