Improved service for arthritis sufferers

LOCAL people living with arthritis can now benefit from an expanded range of services which aim to make life that bit easier for them.

Those living with arthritis who are experiencing problems carrying out simple tasks can get help and support from the Angus Rheumatology Occupational Therapy Service.

The service, which is run by occupational therapist Andrew Makaka, is delivered across Angus and has been expanded to offer an enhanced range of treatments. Patients can self-refer to the service or be referred by their rheumatology consultant, hand specialist consultant, GP, physiotherapist, podiatrist, social worker or family member.

Organised by Angus Community Health Partnership (CHP), this service is aimed at people living with rheumatologic conditions including young patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

The service aims to improve a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living, prevent loss of function, improve or maintain psychological wellbeing, as well as give advice on what people can do to minimise the effect of living with arthritis on their lifestyle.

Weekly Outpatient clinics are held at Arbroath, Stracathro, Montrose and Forfar and at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Patients can also be seen at home if they cannot make it to any of the designated clinics. Home visits are carried out on the second and fourth last Wednesdays of each month.

Clinics are as follows:

Mondays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Stracathro Hospital, physiotherapy outpatient department.

Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Links Health Centre, Montrose.

First and third Wednesday of each month, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ninewells Hospital, occupational therapy department.

Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Arbroath Infirmary, physiotherapy department.

Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Whitehills Health and Community Care Centre, Forfar.

Occupational Therapist Andrew Makaka said, “I see many patients on a daily basis who have, due to the affects of arthritis, given up activities because of pain and discomfort.

“I would encourage anyone who has arthritis to refer themselves to one of the clinics to be assessed. Referral forms can be picked up at your local health centre. It could be that a series of exercises or a simple gadget is all a patient requires to make a difference to them and improve the quality of their lives.”

Joyce Newlands, Arbroath, has suffered for many years with arthritis which was gradually getting worse. Joyce self-referred to the service as arthritis affecting her thumb was seriously restricting its use, resulting in her being unable to grasp objects and unable to perform simple tasks such as opening jars or bottles or holding cups or turning door handles. Joyce was given exercises to strengthen her thumb whilst at the same time she was shown different ways of holding things which reduced the pressure on her thumb.

She said: “The pain in my hands was getting so bad that I had to give up doing certain things and after only three or four visits to the Rheumatology Occupational Service I noticed a huge improvement. I was given exercises to practise as well as a simple gadget to use when opening jars.

“This has made such a difference to my life that I have been able to reduce the number of painkillers I have been taking. All in all, the help I received has hugely improved my daily life.”