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UK's first 'wellness centre' takes preventive action

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VOL: 96, ISSUE: 39, PAGE NO: 44

Kairen Roche

Kairen Roche

Prevention is better than cure, which is partly why nurse Kairen Roche joined Elysium - the first 'wellness centre' in Britain. After 17 years of working in a clinical field of nursing, treating patients who could have prevented some of their conditions, Ms Roche jumped at the chance to work at the centre to learn how health promotion and education can improve a person's well-being.

Based in Albrighton, near Wolverhampton, Elysium (which is Greek for a place or state of happiness) embodies a philosophy of well-being for the mind, body and spirit. It focuses on the total 'wellness of the body' rather than illness. A wide range of professionals work together to achieve this state, including a nurse, physiotherapist, podiatrist, exercise physiologist and beauty therapists. There are also alternative therapists, such as practitioners of yoga, pilates, reflexology and float therapies.

The team takes a holistic approach to the care of its clients and assessments are carried out so that an appropriate and suitable 'wellness plan' can be decided upon. Each plan is adapted for the changing needs of the client. Medical screenings are carried out on all new clients and the team holds regular case studies to ensure that information is correlated to provide the best treatment.

The practitioners at Elysium liaise very closely with local GPs and the cardiac unit, which provide valuable information on cardiac rehabilitation.

The holistic approach

All too often in primary care settings, usually due to time restraints, nurses and doctors set about a course of treatment for a medical condition, such as hypertension, and fail to look at 'the big picture'. It is important to assess other life changes the patient may be experiencing, such as a relative dying, divorce and children leaving home.

Too many nurses and GPs appear sceptical about the holistic approach to wellness and rely on the medical model of health where cure is often related to medication and surgery. This is not only expensive, but could be avoided in some patients as illustrated in the case studies.

Creating a balance in life is the key to achieving the optimum health and fitness. The circular diagram shows the key areas that need to be addressed to achieve this.

We all need to have a little of what appears in the circle, but too much or too little of one factor may be all that is needed to tip the balance and cause illness. When working in primary care, the nurse should include the discussion of these areas as well as carrying out medical screenings. For example, it is pointless discussing diet with an obese patient without knowledge of other aspects of their lives, such as work patterns, where they shop, how much money they have, who cooks and how much exercise they take. Alternatively, treating a patient for hypertension without looking at their lifestyle may often mean we are failing to see the real cause behind the condition.

Having now moved back into a primary care setting, working in a GP's surgery, I am now able to draw on my experiences of working at the wellness centre. I spend more time focusing on a wellness approach and looking at how patients can help themselves achieve a healthier body, mind, spirit and soul.

In today's health care climate, where a public health focus and holistic approach is becoming more prevalent in the way we deal with illness, I envisage that many primary care teams will have close links with this type of centre as a matter of course in the future.

- For further information telephone 01902 374555 or e-mail

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