Chronic pain sufferers have been brought much needed relief by the adoption of a uniquely holistic approach for a clinic run by the pain team at Milton Keynes hospital.
Patients are now offered psychological support as well as easier access to pain and medicine management advice after the clinic started up a support group and a drop-in centre.
Users say that it is the style of the team members that ensure they are treated with dignity; one commented that it is accepted that each patient is in pain and each is an individual with different needs.
It was found that patients who were waiting to see a pain clinic consultant actually needed help that could be delivered in other ways. For example, they were feeling isolated, were looking for new treatment developments or had benefits queries.
Literature suggested that support groups could provide the basis for people with chronic pain to come together and share their experiences and concerns. Initially led by the pain team psychologist, the monthly meeting support group became so popular that a new venue had to be found to accommodate members. Gradually they have set up their own committee and need less direction.
The drop-in clinic was set up to address the problem patients had getting help between consultant appointments.
As nothing like this exists elsewhere for chronic pain care, a framework was created in consultation with the pain team and members of the support group. It was first piloted for a year, the results of which are being processed.
One user says: "You are given back your life, you are helped and encouraged to manage your pain better, and for me, most importantly you no longer feel isolated and thrown on the scrapheap.
"The support group helps you keep your head above water and the addition of the drop-in centre makes it harder for depression to raise its ugly head."