According to NHS Choices, Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes a person’s joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.
The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints. For some people, the symptoms may be mild and may come and go, whereas others can experience more continuous and severe problems.
Almost any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the condition most often causes problems in the knees, hips, and small joints of the hands.
It's not clear exactly why this happens in some people, although your chances of developing the condition can be influenced by a number of factors, including your weight.
With more than 64% of adults in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil describing themselves as overweight or obese* (compared to the Wales average of 58%) Cwm Taf University Health Board has developed the Joint Care Programme.
The Joint Care programme is an exciting bespoke programme focusing on improving mobility and the weight management of people with knee or hip pain.
During the 12 week programme, participants take part in nutrition education, cooking classes as well as low impact exercise sessions.
Carla Jackson, exercise referral co-ordinator said: “Being more active can help prevent and manage a wide range of medical conditions, but for some people getting active can be a challenge and they need some extra support.
“This is where Joint Care programme can help. In Merthyr Tydfil we have a supportive and experienced team who help their clients to achieve their goals and improve their health and wellbeing.
“Listening to our clients talk about how much the Joint Care Programme has helped improve their lives highlights to me how important physical activity is and makes me very proud of the excellent team we have here in Merthyr Tydfil.”
Christine Moseley, exercise referral professional said: “I have found that social inclusion is a big part of programme especially for the older age group who sometimes find themselves in situations where family commitments have overtaken their everyday lives.
“The programme gives them an opportunity to do something for themselves to help improve their health physically and mentally.
“It is rewarding and enjoyable working with clients that have a variety of medical conditions and seeing the improvements in health that we help them to achieve.”
How do you get referred to the Joint Care Programme?
Referral to the Joint Care programme can be made through your General Practitioner, physiotherapist, dietitian, or any registered healthcare professional.
What happens when my referral is completed?
Once the form is agreed by the healthcare professional, you will be contacted by phone or post to make an appointment to meet your exercise professional.
On your first visit, your exercise professional will meet you to find out more about your health history, carry out some basic health checks and discuss a choice of activities that are suitable.
Who delivers the courses?
The programme is delivered by trained exercise professionals and supported by public health and community dietitians.
What are the benefits of attending the courses?
- A healthier lifestyle to reduce the risk to developing further health conditions
- Great social interaction by meeting lots of new people
- Weight loss, improved mobility, higher confidence and feeling healthier
- Increasing activity and losing weight can improve health and wellbeing, including the potential to delay or avoid surgery
What happens after the course has finished?
If you attend the Joint Care programme you can then continue being supported through the NERS programme for an additional 16 weeks. You can then be sure to be supported to continue exercising and making it part of your everyday lifestyle.
Both Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff Local Authorities deliver the National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS). The scheme is for people who have a chronic disease or are at risk of developing chronic disease, providing an opportunity to access a high quality supervised exercise programme to improve health and wellbeing.
Once on the scheme there are a wide range of activities - both gym based and class based to choose from. You will be able to attend as many exercise sessions as you like (subject to approval of your exercise professional) but you will need to commit to attending at least two sessions per week. Sessions are available throughout the week, including some evenings and Saturdays.
Towards the end of both programmes you will be invited to a follow-up appointment to discuss your progress and long term exercise needs. A report will also be sent to the referrer about your progress and results of the course.
How do I find more information about the Joint Care Programme?
If you would like to find out more about the Joint Care Programme or the National Exercise Referral Scheme, please contact the programme co-ordinators
Kevin Russell- Exercise Referral Co-ordinator
Rhondda Cynon Taf Exercise Referral Scheme
Dinas Isaf East,
RCT, CF40 1NY
Mobile – 07825675739
Carla Jackson- Exercise Referral Coordinator
Merthyr Tydfil Exercise Referral Scheme
Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre,
Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Village,
*(Welsh Health Survey 2013/14)