Without needing to travel to larger centres such as Prince George anymore, those living with chronic pain now has a peer-led support group in Vanderhoof this year.
With the first weekly meeting of Vanderhoof’s pain care self-management group in June, it has been a year-long process to kickstart the local support network, said group member Anne Wiebe.
“It’s worldwide, and in the province for 15 years, but nothing up here,” Wiebe said. “For us, we have to travel…and for patients who couldn’t drive, that is a big deal.”
Providing not only support but also information, with speakers such as life coaches, the group gives members a place to share, she added.
“It’s a safe place to go,” Wiebe said. “It’s nice to see people who are suffering the same thing, banding together to try and improve things.”
For example, two patients who may have the same condition that causes their pain, but the pain that they expressed can be completely different, she added.
“What might work for one may not work for another,” she said. “It’s just nice to be able to voice that and let people know that there are options and they’re not alone.”
The group was initiated, and continually to be supported, by community services manager Raquel Miles and chronic disease manager Heather Floris of Northern Health’s Omineca District.
The patient-led group is part of the concept in providing resources in small rural northern communities, Miles said. “Patients are part of the development of something that is sustainable and accessible in our community.” Miles explained that the idea came from the chronic pain module of the province’s practice support program for physicians, to improve the quality of their practice.
Several years ago, a local physician, as well as a team of health professionals from Vanderhoof, were interested and had attended a train-the-trainer session in Vancouver on managing chronic pain, she said.
“We came back as a team and decided that we needed to focus on building a local chronic pain strategy,” Miles said. “Being a small northern community, it’s about getting the resources locally to prevent travel as much as possible — to start to build a hub here.”
Meeting every Tuesday from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in Vanderhoof Public Library, the care group will next meet on Nov. 24 to discuss holiday stress.