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The Expert Patients Programme part of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

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Frequently asked questions

janetHere we answer the most common questions about the Expert Patient Programme. If there is something you are still unsure of, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Who is the programme for?

It is for anyone with an ongoing illness or condition who wants to learn new skills for managing and improving their health. People who have already benefitted from the course have had conditions including:

  • heart disease
  • depression
  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • MS
  • back pain
  • stroke
  • cancer
  • ME
  • Autism
  • and many other long term conditions.

Come along and listen, share experiences and discuss issues. You can participate as much or as little as you wish.

What is the programme?

It runs for six weeks and each session lasts for two and half hours. It is held in local community venues where you take part in group discussions or activities. You get to meet new people, have fun and, most importantly, feel better.

What do you learn?

Weekly sessions help give you tools, techniques and confidence to manage your condition better. We cover a wide variety of topics including:

  • managing symptoms and improving how you feel
  • setting realistic goals
  • communicating effectively with health professionals
  • relaxation techniques
  • problem solving
  • dealing with anger, fear, frustration and isolation.

The programme focuses on what you can do, rather than what you can’t. And what makes it so special is the sharing of skills and experience with people who are dealing with similar things as you.

How can the programme help me?

PaulVIt is designed to put you in control of your health – to make you an expert in managing your own wellbeing. Through a set of tried and tested techniques the course has been shown to increase confidence and help you feel better and more in control.

How has it helped other people?

People who have taken part have said it has helped them to:

  • Feel confident and more in control of their life
  • Manage their condition and treatment together with healthcare professionals
  • Be realistic about the impact of their condition on themselves and their family
  • Use their new skills and knowledge to improve their quality of life.

Take a look at our inspiring films to hear how EPP has helped local people.

Who runs the programme?

It is run by the NHS. Sessions are led by people who have all attended an EPP course, found it helpful, and have trained as tutors themselves. This means that everyone who is involved knows exactly how it feels to come to a course as well as to live with an ongoing health condition, so they fully understand the ups and downs it can bring. It also means you can choose to train as a tutor once you’ve completed the course.

Does the programme interfere with my current treatment?

No, not at all. It is an extra way of supporting your health needs. The course complements other healthcare programmes and treatments and it doesn’t offer specific advice or guidance around individual conditions.

What if my worries or experiences are different to other peoples?

The beauty of this programme is that whilst we are all different, we can all learn from each other. Experience and research has shown that, whatever your condition, the things you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis are very similar – tiredness and pain, for example. The programme gives you the opportunity to put into practice the skills you learn with the support of others who are facing similar challenges.

Do I need to pay?

No, it is a free programme, run by the NHS.

Do I need to be referred by my doctor?

PaulBNo, you can just refer yourself. However you may choose to discuss it with your GP or other health professional, and they will be able to put you in touch with us.

Do I need to talk about my own condition?

There will be times in the programme where people will talk about how your condition affects their life and what they would like to change. However, it is up to you what you want to share and how much detail you want to give. All discussions are confidential.

Where are the courses held?

The courses are held in easy-to-access community venues, with good access to public transport. It is not a hospital setting and offers a relaxed, informal feel. We provide refreshments at every course. Find out about upcoming courses.

Can carers attend?

Yes, of course, carers are very welcome and can get a great deal out of the sessions. Just contact us to discuss this further.

Do I have to book?

Yes, places on the course are limited. To book your place on a course, please contact us.

Does it work?

Quite simply, yes! EPP is based on more than 30 years experience in the UK, Australia, China, America and other countries.

There is a wealth of evidence that shows EPP has significant benefits for people who take part.

Key research findings from a randomised trial carried out by the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre found that participants have:

  • increased confidence to manage their condition
  • improved quality of life and psychological wellbeing
  • increased energy
  • improved partnerships with doctors
  • a high satisfaction with the course

Patients who complete the Expert Patients Programme can expect to experience a 15% reduction in symptoms and pain reduction and when integrated into their care pathway a further 15 to 20% reduction in symptoms can be experienced.

But, don’t just take our word for it. View our inspiring films to hear first-hand what a difference it can make.