Getting patients involved – rheumatology conferences for patients and the public
Over the past 3 years the Department of Rheumatology at Portsmouth has held over 15 patient and public conferences, attended by over 2,000 delegates. One-day and evening events have included ‘Day-to-day living with arthritis’ and ‘Love your bones – an update on osteoporosis’.
These conferences have been recognised as pioneering events within the field of rheumatology. In 2009 the National Audit Office also acknowledged the conference/ programme in its report to Parliament on rheumatoid arthritis.
The team is dedicated to ensuring that patients receive the latest information on medication, treatments, nutrition and exercise to improve the quality of their daily life. Patient conferences are tailored to fit individual needs and feature question-and-answer sessions with physicians and other healthcare professionals, patient support groups, and invited speakers.
The conferences also give individuals and families the chance to meet one another and share common experiences. We work with all ages from children, to working adults to older people. These events enable the Rheumatology Team working with Portsmouth Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA), a local network group, to build our relationship with patients, their families, council departments and patient support groups. Feedback has been positive, with 90–98% of delegates stating they would attend similar events. Conference delegates say the friends they made and the information they received changed the way they think about their disease and how they manage it. For first-timers, meeting other people with similar diseases is an inspiring experience. They gain confidence from learning how others manage the disease.
Recently other departments from the trust have supported these events. Events have also attracted corporate sponsorship, which means they have been self-funding.