Leader training workshop on chronic pain self-management offered

Specialist Terry Cayer from Interior Health will host a leader training workshop on self-management of chronic pain this June.

It’s no secret that chronic pain interferes with daily life, and that thousands of people in the province are living with it, says Terry Cayer, program co-ordinator for the Interior Health region.

In June, Cayer will be in Williams Lake to facilitate a chronic pain self-management leader training workshop.

“I will be training leaders who will then deliver six-session workshops in their communities,” Cayer says, adding the workshops are designed to help any adult living with chronic pain.

Those can be things like cancer, arthritis, soft tissue damage or fibromyalgia.

In the program, participants will learn the importance of fitness and exercise in managing chronic pain, but the program also puts a lot of emphasis on pacing activities with rest.

“For a lot of us, that’s a hard thing to do. Especially when we have good days and we decide we better get everything done, but then what happens is we usually pay a price for that after the fact,” Cayer explains.

There are also mental activities that help decipher emotions, and how to manage symptoms by using such things as guided imagery, relaxation, and other calming strategies.

The importance of working with a health-care team in an effective way and developing effective communication skills is also tackled.

“One of the big things for people with chronic pain is dealing with fatigue and sleep issues. We will talk about all those undermining things that really impact how we’re feeling and able to cope with daily living,” Cayer says.

A plus of the program, she adds, is its gentle pace. People in chronic pain are often hesitant to involve themselves with physical activity and movement.

“We offer a moving easy program that is built right into the training and built right into the workshops,” she notes.

It’s a 12-minute gentle program for the entire body, contained on a CD, that workshop participants can take home afterwards, along with a workbook that’s filled with information,  including ways to describe pain to a health-care professional.

“It’s got fantastic descriptions about how to be more clear and concise when describing symptoms and what your pain feels like. Even how to rate it between one and 10,” Cayer says.

Included is a list of trigger foods that have been linked to pain, strategies for sleeping better, and helpful information about fibromyalgia.

The program is not a “sit and listen” type of format. Instead participants will have a chance to walk around, move and interact.

“People don’t have to be worried that it’s going to be a lecture,” Cayer says.

While the program is training volunteers, there are funds available later to help cover the cost of travel, should the leaders begin offering workshops in their communities.

“We don’t want people out of pocket to help us provide this service in the community.”

The University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging developed the chronic pain self-management program, which came out of the original chronic disease self-management program the centre created and began offering in 2000.

Since its inception, close to 20,000 have gone through the disease management program, and the centre has heard consistently that people love it.

“We’re seeing the same trend with the chronic pain self-management. People feel it’s time well spent and that they’ve learned some valuable information.

A lot of the information they’ve heard before, but now it makes sense once they have gone through our program.”

Cayer is also noticing that people from as young as their early 20s are enrolling.

“It’s unfortunate for all of us that we’re dealing with this kind of chronic pain, but it’s great to be able to offer a program that is user friendly. We don’t use a lot of technical terms.

“We keep it simple so that it’s understandable by everyone and practical, giving people skills they can use on their own at home.”

While Cayer doesn’t claim the workshop can work miracles, she says it does provide strategies that have been effective for many people.

“We’re thrilled to be offer this,” she adds.

The workshop will run June 5-8 from 9 a.m – 4 p.m. at Central Interior Community Services Co-op, Room 116, 51 Fourth Ave. The leader training is free, but pre-registration is required by calling 1-866-902-3767. More information is available at www.selfmanagementbc.ca.