Welsh health board launches new wellness service to help tackle pandemic backlog – Wales 247

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A new wellness service, the Wellness Improvement Service (WISE), which enables patients to take control of their own health is being launched by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board (CTM UHB). The service forms part of the NHS Wales Planned Care Programme for Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board.
WISE follows an evidence-based, lifestyle medicine approach where patient empowerment forms the basis of the service and supports behaviour change through person centred techniques to improve mental and physical wellbeing
Through a sustained education programme, WISE aims to enable referred patients to better understand the root causes of their current medical conditions and choose lifestyle behaviours that improve their long-term health, as well as ensure a better quality of life with reduced symptom burden.
This ethos resonates with the Health Board’s 2030 strategy to support patients access to several opportunities to improve their physical and mental health outcomes; promote wellbeing; and support the reduction of lifestyle-related disease such as deprivation, health inequality, and social isolation within the regional population.
The WISE Team will initially be able to support patients with the following:
Patients can be referred by their Consultant, GP practice, health professionals, self-referral, or social connector. The service will also be increasing the opportunity to other conditions over the coming months to offer this key prevention and wellness support.
Liza Thomas-Emrus, Lead Clinician with WISE said: “Our objective at WISE is to focus on what really matters to each individual patient by addressing any barriers they may have to make successful healthy lifestyle choices, and then create the opportunities to deliver holistic care that is impactful to them. We want patients to feel they are being seen as the individuals they are and not as a symptom or disease.
‘We all know how difficult it is to change our lifestyles. It can appear simple but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Patients will have a Wellness Coach to support them to implement sustained changes that improves quality of life.
“This provides an exciting opportunity for us at WISE as we have created the time to focus more vigorously on the lifestyle factors which are the root cause of our region’s most chronic illnesses. It’s a ‘win- win’ for WISE patients and the Health Board.”
Wellness Coaches
WISE is designed to be a scalable, replicable service that will be delivered through highly trained Wellness Coaches, employed by the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board.
The volunteer team from within the Health Board will support the service and will be key to its roll out and development of peer-to-peer support.
Each Wellness Coach and volunteer will lead groups of up to 20 referred patients through a structured programme focusing on areas such as nutrition, physical movement, stress reduction, sleep improvement and helping to reduce any symptoms that may impact on day-to-day quality of life.
The service will be supported by a Wellness Community Coordinator to provide social prescribing services and three lifestyle medicine doctors.
Digital Health tools
With digital tools now extensively being used to supplement face-to-face healthcare, WISE have invested in the development of a self-management website that will introduce the major holistic lifestyle medicine categories.
The website will provide links to other reliable websites, offer downloadable health resources, and feature regular blog articles and web podcasts covering lifestyle medicine topics from selected health experts and practitioners.
Patients referred to WISE will also have personal tailored access to various digital healthcare social prescribing applications and digital health libraries.
An exciting tool for staff and patients is the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA), a leading health app review and distribution company where WISE has its own store that offers behaviour change and support APPS.
The service also utilises Elemental Software, whose award-winning technology is used primarily in community health-based programmes and healthcare interventions. This software helps WISE gain an understanding of the patient and their outcomes in a unique way.
Gillian Day, Health and Wellness programme manager with WISE said:
 “Our team views digital opportunities such as health and care apps as a crucial step on the journey to a more patient-centred, self-managed healthcare approach – something close to our hearts at WISE whilst we also ensure patients do not become digitally isolated.
“The digital health experts at ORCHA and Elemental will help us overcome the current post pandemic challenges we face in our region, and, keeping the future in mind, provide an alternative healthcare approach to our population with ever increasing life expectancy and more long-term conditions.”
Third Sector partnership
WISE will engage with the community through selected third sector organisations and local business to deliver a variety of patient centred workshops to encourage patients to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
These will include healthy cooking classes, stress reduction workshops, specialist bowel dietician sessions, Fitbit programmes and many more.
Once such local Welsh organisation, Get Fit Wales, motivates their customers using a target-based step programme. Once step targets are achieved, they are then rewarded with vouchers that can be spent within their local community such as fruit and veg stores, gyms, hairdressers, or cinemas.
WISE has also partnered with the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Boards Arts and Performance department and will offer a series of unique arts, crafts, and performance workshops with local Welsh artists.

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