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Personal care plan pilots up and running

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Nurses in the east of England are helping to pilot an initiative to implement personalised care plans for people with long-term conditions.

Launched at the end of last month at 16 sites, the three-month scheme will look at how nurses and GPs can use personalised care plans to support people with long-term conditions (LTC) to take control of their healthcare needs.

The launch of the pilots – in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire – follows a government commitment to provide a more personalised service for people with LTCs.

The NHS Next Stage Review, published last June, pledged that by 2010 all 15 million people in England living with one or more long-term conditions should be offered a personalised care plan.

The Department of Health followed this up in November by launching Your Health, Your Way, a guide to help people living with LTCs self-manage their conditions. A version of the guide for health professionals was published last week.

Pauline Milne, lead for long-term conditions and nursing policy in the nursing directorate at NHS East of England, said that personalised care plans would act as a ‘contract’ between the patient and the healthcare professional – focusing on goal setting, providing information and supporting self-care.

‘It is not just about ticking boxes, it is about really changing the focus of the consultation process between the healthcare professional and the person with a long-term condition, empowering them to take control of their care,’ she told delegates at a conference on managing long-term conditions in Harrogate last week.

The pilots involve patients with a range of conditions including dementia, diabetes, asthma, COPD, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis - two pilots will also look at self care for people with learning disabilities. The size of the pilots varies – from five older people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust to 500 stroke patients in NHS Bedfordshire.

Julie Widdowson, diabetes nurse specialist and service lead for diabetes at Norfolk Community Health and Care, who is leading a pilot involving 10 people with diabetes, said care plans would help meet the holistic needs of people with long-term conditions.

‘We will be looking at how they can be used to address the concerns of people with diabetes, and how they can be tailored to meet individual needs,’ she told Nursing Times.

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