Versus Arthritis, a charity formed in 2018 by a merger of Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK, has confirmed a grant from the Welsh government that will help the organisation provide further support to people across Wales.
The grant of more than £1 million, to be delivered over three years, will support key priorities including:
- A "new and equal" relationship between people and practitioners
- Early intervention and prevention
- Transforming how people's needs for care and support are met
Local care and support
The approval of the funding gives Versus Arthritis an opportunity to begin a partnership with the Welsh government and start the rollout of the Communities with Touchpoints can Help (CWTCH) Cymru project across Wales from April 2020.
Due to begin in Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in west Wales, the initiative will then extend to Powys, north Wales and West Glamorgan. Its focus will be on delivering better local community support to people living with arthritis.
The condition affects nearly a third (29 per cent) of the Welsh population. Versus Arthritis has heard from patients that they want to feel more connected with their peers and less isolated, while access to trusted, relevant information is also seen as important.
One of the key aims of the CWTCH Cymru project is to enable healthcare professionals and people with arthritis to work together in planning and delivering care and support.
Mary Cowern, director of Cymru Versus Arthritis, said: "We're delighted to have been awarded such an important grant which will help us grow our much-needed services and reach more people across Wales.
"The grant will enable us to help more people across Wales to connect with others, to have the confidence and support to manage their condition, to become more independent, less isolated, and to shape local services."
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are various treatments that can ease the symptoms and help to slow its progress, such as:
- Lifestyle changes
The benefits of exercise
Another initiative supported by Versus Arthritis in Wales aims to highlight the benefits of exercise to tackle the condition.
The Get Active for Arthritis project, which is backed by the National Lottery Community Fund, helps people living with arthritis take control of their health, become more active and enjoy a more fulfilling life.
It offers an activity-based self-management course that helps participants better understand their condition and the benefits of exercise.
People also have the opportunity to try out various activities to find one they enjoy in their local area.
The service began three years ago and, during that time, 380 people have attended activity classes and self-management courses, while a further 1,000 have been reached through information-sharing events.
Almost all participants (96 per cent) said they felt better able to manage their condition, while 92 per cent reported being more active.
Speaking at a Welsh Assembly event to support Get Active for Arthritis, minister for health Vaughan Gething stressed that living with arthritis "does not mean you are defined by your condition", adding: "It is the choices we make that define who we are and projects such as this help us to live our best lives."