Free health workshops are offered in White Rock.

Free health classes at risk

Workshops teach self-management of chronic illnesses

A number of free, volunteer-run workshops focused on self-management for chronic illnesses are being offered to Peninsula residents in the upcoming weeks.

However, a lack of awareness about the services offered may lead to the classes being cancelled, which would be a big blow to those who could benefit, said volunteer facilitator Sheila Allison.

“It would be a terrible loss if these workshops had to be cancelled just because people didn’t know about them or the value of attending,” she said.

Offered through the University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging Self-Management Programs, the workshops require between eight to 10 participants and offer information on how to deal with chronic conditions – such as diabetes – at home.

Allison and husband Archie first became involved with the workshops after attending one hosted in White Rock three years ago. Once they had seen the services offered, the couple – who both have backgrounds in the health-care industry – knew that this was something they wanted to become a part of.

“When I went, I began to understand the importance of self-management,” Allison said. “People are able to see, ‘Gee, I’m not the only one who has got these problems’ and they can share ideas with how to deal with them.”

The workshops, offered at various locations in White Rock, all have similar formats, with people coming in, introducing themselves, speaking on their conditions and problems resulting from them, then working as a group to find viable solutions.

“Instead of saying, ‘I have a problem and can’t do anything about it’ we focus on what you can do,” she said.

The workshops include interactive sessions which allow people to go through a problem-solving process, followed by suggestions from their peers. The main focus is to show people that they can take control, Allison said.

“The core of self-management is taking responsibility for your own health and then gaining confidence in learning the skills you need to do that,” she said. “You may not be able to change your condition, but there are things you can do.”

The Allisons will be running a diabetes workshop May 27-July 8, 1-3:30 p.m. at the iConnect Health Centre, 15455 Vine Ave.

For a complete list of workshops, visit www.selfmanagementbc.ca

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