Chronic Disease Management Important in Healthcare

Healthy Together Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

By North West LHIN
THUNDER BAY – Chronic Disease Management is an important part of the health care system across the North West LHIN as the region faces a higher-than-average prevalence of chronic disease. This has led dedicated health service providers to work with patients/clients and their families to manage chronic disease, chronic pain, and diabetes in new ways. 

One of the newer ways care providers in the Northwest are trying to help people live more comfortably while managing chronic disease is by equipping these people with the tools to manage chronic disease more independently. This approach, provided through the North West Community Care Access Centre’s (CCAC) Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), maintains the support and expertise care providers have always provided, while adding a level of prevention, independence and individualization to chronic disease management that was not common in the past.

“When we are empowered, supported and trained, we are more likely to improve our overall health and decrease the need for dependence on the health care system,” says Michael McBride, Chronic Disease Self-Management Training Supervisor, North West CCAC, located in Thunder Bay. “The program works because it is based on evidence that when we learn in a nurturing environment led by our peers, we build our own self-efficacy and confidence after learning from others who have travelled a similar path.”

The CDSMP offers workshops in chronic disease, chronic pain and diabetes self-management. And, in an effort to ensure sustainability of the Program across the North West LHIN, the North West CCAC is working with various First Nations communities to provide training to First Nations community members to become Peer Leaders in chronic disease self-management. Already, programs have been delivered in many First Nations communities, including Aroland, Bearskin Lake, Big Grassy Eabametoong, Fort William, Grassy Narrows, Iskatewizaagegan #39, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, and many others.

“I travel to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities/organizations in my work as a Tobacco-Wise Lead and I hope that this can help people to understand more about self-management and prevent further disease and/or complications,” says Nicole Carnochan, Peer Leader and Master Trainer for the North West CCAC Self-Management Program in Sioux Lookout, another stream of chronic disease self-management offered through Cancer Care Ontario. “This program helps community members to understand more about their chronic disease issues and gives them strategies to deal with some of the challenges they may face. It gives them tools to help live with chronic disease and understand how to make healthy lifestyle choices, like healthy eating, coping with stress, not smoking or using commercial tobacco, being physically active and more.”

As chronic disease self-management continues to grow and expand across the North West LHIN, the hope is that self-management will improve health outcomes while empowering patients/clients and breaking the symptom cycles faced by individuals who are living with chronic conditions each day. 

“These self-management programs are designed to assist the individual to achieve goals they set for themselves, giving people the tools to be successful and overcome obstacles, and take control of their condition and their lives,” says Michael. “It is my hope to have a significant impact and decrease the effect of chronic diseases across all populations through improved overall health and to see a decrease in pressures on the health care system.”

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