How networks add meaning to people living with long term health conditions – Dr Anne Kennedy

Improving the network of support for people with long term conditions is a more sustainable way to help than appealing to them to change their behaviour. Connections between people often encourage action and the use of the resources around them in a more meaningful way in their everyday lives.

At CLAHRC Wessex our flagship project is the implementation, across the region, of GENIE a web-based tool which is designed to assess and develop the support networks of people with long-term conditions. People can map their support networks and state their preferences and needs in order to link them to local organisations for health and well-being support.

The project started on the Isle of Wight and we worked closely with the My Life A Full Life team to make good use of the tool on the island. We’ve been investigating how GENIE is enabled by health trainers and care navigators – exploring changes in people’s support networks over the course of a year.

Using social networks to help people manage their condition
Seeing how GENIE works first hand with the My Health My Way team in Dorset

Anne Kennedy, Ivo Vassilev and Liz James recently had a very successful training session with a self-management support team in Bournemouth. My Health My Way is managed by Jim Phillips and includes one our CLAHRC theme PPI champions Anya de Longh. Training involves a presentation and discussion about the background and evidence for the social networks intervention, and a series of activities to allow people to get hands-on experience of how to use the tool.

The ‘My Way’ team is now trying out GENIE with their clients. They were most excited by the circles technique to map people’s support networks. They hope to integrate GENIE with the My Health My Way website and introduce the social networks approach as an exercise in their 6-week face-to-face training course. We will see them again in a few months to see how it went and share their experiences.

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