North Ayrshire Hep C Support Group

1st Year Anniversary
A support group for people in North Ayrshire who have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C has just celebrated their 1 year anniversary as a group.  Hepatitis Scotland went to their 1 year celebration to find out what they have accomplished in the last year, and what the members were looking forward in the next year.
The group meets once a month in Ardrossan, with lunch and a minibus provided to pick people up and drop people home again.  
When asked what the members enjoyed about the group, a large and varied list of responses was given, such as:
  • Knowledge and information – on lots of different areas
  • Don’t feel isolated and alone
  • Support and camaraderie
  • The confidentiality rules – you know your speaking in a safe place
  • I just really look forward to coming
  • I wish It was more often, but understand funding restrictions
  • It gives us opportunities to get involved in more things
The members were asked to think back before the group began and how they felt then – they recalled only having a worker to talk to, and although having staff involved in the support group was highlighted as the number 1 thing that meant the group ran well, without having a space to talk with fellow patients left people feeling isolated – it was highlighted that knowing you’re not the only person in this situation was reassuring.
The additional information that was given in the group setting was also highlighted as being of great value; information on healthy eating and lifestyles, money advice and information on treatments and Hepatitis C all added to the members understanding and helped them to live healthier lives and access services to help.  At the group on Friday 24th January was a member of Fresh Air-Shire, http://www.nhsaaa.net/services-index/f-fresh-air-shire.aspx, discussing smoking cessation with the group.
When asked what their top tip was for having a successful support group, the unanimous response from the members was having workers and nurses on board – to advertise to new patients, to organise the information on topics requested by the members and to provide the venue, send reminders, organise the minibus and provide lunch.  The staff involved with the organisation of the group returned this favour, and stated that it was the members’ enthusiasm for the support group and information that resulted in having such a successful 1st year.
When asked what they looked forward to in the next year, some members were excited about new opportunities as peer educators and mentors.  Others simply looked forward to continuing with the group and learning more from the information provided on leading a healthy life.
The staff involved in organising the support group are:
  • Carol-Ann Lonie, BBV Charge Nurse, North Ayrshire Community Addictions Team, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Addiction Services
  • Paula Kane, BBV Charge Nurse, North Ayrshire Community Addictions Team, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Addiction Services
  • Jim Storrar, Education & Prevention Specialist, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Addiction Services
  • Chris Myles, Addictions Prevention Officer, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Addiction Services
For more information on the North Ayrshire Support Group contact Chris Myles on 01563 826219 or email Chris.Myles@aaaht.scot.nhs.uk


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