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Powys Teaching Health Board Pain and Fatigue Management Centre

This programme showed patients how to use online and digital resources to improve the independent management of their health and well-being at home.

Quick read

This programme showed patients how to use online and digital resources to improve the independent management of their health and wellbeing at home.

Occupational therapy staff naturally integrated digital technology into programme delivery, ensuring it was easy, attractive, social and timely.

Tablets were used as a familiar and engaging way to show patients new apps and websites to manage their health and where to find credible sources of medical advice.

Digital is now the default for patients and staff, who have reported increased confidence, new skills and better access to the right information, all as a result of being able to try things out in a safe, supported environment.

What was the issue that needed to be addressed?

The Powys Teaching Health Board Pain and Fatigue Management Centre, based in Bronllys Hospital, offers support to people across Powys with long term health conditions.

The centre runs a two-week residential programme for patients experiencing chronic pain and / or chronic fatigue. The aim of the programme is to help people to manage their health condition independently at home so people have a better quality of life.

Occupational therapy staff were keen to integrate digital technology, making it a natural part of programme delivery in a way that is easy, accessible and relevant.

What was the intervention and how did it work?

Staff from the Pain and Fatigue Management Centre were trained by Digital Communities Wales on Health & Well-being Apps and Websites so they could incorporate digital elements into the two-week pain management programme.

The first step was to build confidence in using technology by building it into the day to day work of the team.

In addition, ten iPads were loaned to the team to use during the residential programme, so patients could learn how different apps and websites can help them manage their health conditions independently at home and how to find good quality health and wellbeing information online. Staff reported that this was one of the things that made the biggest impact – helping people to understand where to find credible sources of medical advice.

“Having the iPads to use in the sessions enabled a mixed media approach which engaged individuals and ensured interaction within the session.”
Clare Clark, Advanced Practitioner Occupational Therapist

Specific activities included:

  • One to one support with using iPads to build users’ confidence
  • Sharing trusted apps via the NHS app library to signpost verified sources of information, tailored to individuals choices and needs
  • Help setting up and using activity trackers on patients’ smartphones
  • Support to use smart speakers to set reminders and create structure for people. For example, to take a break or when to eat for people who may be sleeping more than usual.
  • Using Flo to share reminders and encourage people to take more control of their own health – follow up messages were sent to support patients in using their post-treatment workbooks.
  • Giving participants a daily well-being challenge with the iPad for example, exploring their own health conditions in more detail, learning more about meditation or using them on countryside walks.

“Flo is used for automatic text reminders for monitoring things like blood pressure with cardiac patients. But we used it to support the use of our workbooks – a woman on the programme told us afterwards that she looked forward to the text messages from Flo and missed the structure and routine it had provided.”
Clare Clark, Advanced Practitioner Occupational Therapist

Staff are now developing their use of video support to help patients feel comfortable about attending appointments – introducing the team they’ll meet, showing them the facilities and helping with directions.

In planning their interventions, staff have used the tried-and-tested EAST behaviour change model to develop digital solutions that would be Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely. For example, they are increasingly using Skype for consultations – it is an easy, familiar technology, which can be used at a time that suits the patient, such as during the working day.