Living Well with Arthritis successfully delivered online during Covid lockdown

Arthritis NSW had hoped to deliver its Rural Health Program to the local Nowra and Shoalhaven community on the 29 July, however sadly due to the restrictions imposed across Sydney and the greater metropolitan area, the program needed to be moved online. It is wonderful to report that this minor disruption did not diminish the south coast residents’ appetites for opportunities to learn more about their conditions and the ways they can effectively manage it (even in the context of our present challenges).

We are also inspired and encouraged by the resilience and adaptability shown by our engaged communities as they whole-heartedly embrace new and foreign technologies to ensure that they are able to stay socially connected and informed during this challenging time.

The day was split into two one-hour-long sessions and were attended by 30+ people who came from not just the southeast coast region but from areas of Sydney, Central West and the Hunter region (one silver lining about online education sessions, is that now more people are able to access our sessions from across the state). We ran our “Living Well with Arthritis” presentation, which gave its viewers a detailed understanding of the condition (e.g., risk factors, symptoms) and explored the many evidence-backed management strategies that can be employed to self-manage this condition in a way that contributes to ongoing positive quality of life.

This was coupled by a complementary presentation on “How to live well with a Chronic condition” from Erica Pitman, who drew not just from per own personal experiences living with rheumatoid arthritis, but also from her many years of professional experience as a group facilitator and grief counsellor. This session was very interactive and served to ensure that participants understood that their life adjustment was real, the emotions associated to this disease were valid and that there were again, sometimes simple, but effective ways that they could employ various management strategies (e.g., mindfulness, goal setting) to reduce the disruptions in their life caused by arthritis

Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive with many expressing not just their gratitude to have been able to learn something new about their condition or the way to manage it, but for the opportunity to connect and share their experiences with others in similar situations in a time when social connectivity has become so important.

Based on the reception and reported value of these events, Arthritis NSW currently continues to plan for the next Rural Health Program event in October and has adopted the philosophy of “plan to deliver within the community and adjust closer to the time if required. Though we still may find ourselves in uncertain times for 2021, “we anticipate and optimistically hope to be delivering face-to-face programs in the new year when it becomes appropriate to do so.