Who knows what in rare disease? Engagement, information and communication

As part of the work on the NI Rare Disease Plan, NIRDP has been running a series of Workshops across Northern Ireland, and an Online Survey, to identify information needs in relation to rare disease issues; what information is currently available and what information people would like to help them live or work with rare conditions.

On 7 June, a workshop chaired by Professor Ian Young, the Chief Scientific Officer and Chair of the NI Rare Disease Implementation Group,  heard about progress in genetics, presented by Dr Tabib Dabir, Clinical Lead, NI Regional Medical Genetics Service (and member of NIRDP’s Board)  and in metabolics, presented by Dr Clodagh Loughrey, Consultant Chemical Pathologist and Clinical Director Laboratories, BHSCT.

It’s clear from these presentations that the pathway to diagnosis, and the options available for management and treatment of complex and rare conditions, will soon alter dramatically.  Indeed some changes are already happening, with an individual’s genetic make up helping to determine the best course of treatment in some cases. It’s essential that we think through how to make best use of these advances!

Participants then considered the emerging findings from the Workshops and the Survey, presented by Dr Jane Miller, Research Fellow at the NI Genomic Medicine Centre  and NIRDP Chair Fiona McLaughlin, before working in five groups to validate and  consider how progress could be made on the key areas identified in the Workshops and in the Survey.

Suggestions for improving information and communications

  • Develop care pathways / flow charts / support plans / signposting.
  • Have one ‘go to person’ who co-ordinates care and information sharing between those involved in care:  “Care navigators” to support patients, families, and clinicians.
  • Develop a hub / portal for accessing information for medics, other professionals and people with a rare condition/disease.
  • Develop referral routes to support groups, or to other people with the same condition, from the point of diagnosis.
  • Look and take learning from other models e.g. Cancer Care; Maternity Care (where mothers hold information in The Red Book) Downs Syndrome etc.

There were many valuable suggestions, and much learning across the whole group- for example, about the proposed introduction of the SNOMED coding system across both primary and secondary care; and planned technological developments within Health & Social Care.  Also, locally based training for patients, along the lines of the EUPATI modules some of our members are already familiar with, is hopefully to become available.

We are still processing all the information that emerged; and planning follow up through a virtual working group to take forward the ideas in more detail.

Further details to follow- watch this space!

And if you haven’t already done so, please complete the Survey and get your family and health care colleagues to do so too …

What’s On: Coming Events..

Just to keep you all informed- here are two of the rare disease related events which are coming up this month!

  1. The second All Ireland Neuromuscular Research and Information Sharing Day is being held in Riddell Hall, Belfast, on 16th May 2015. This event is co-hosted by Muscular Dystrophy UK and Muscular Dystrophy Ireland with registration starting at 9.30 am.
  • Prof Francesco Muntoni will be discussing their clinical centre of excellence and translational research for the benefit of patients, including briefly updating on muscle disease genes and measures for trial readiness.
  • Dr Ros Quinlivan is focusing on their new neuromuscular complex care centre (e.g. http://tinyurl.com/kx54rac) and transition.
  • Prof Eileen Treacy from Dublin is providing an update from their National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases, and Aoife Bradley, from the Northern Ireland Regional Medical Genetics Service will be discussing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
  • Afternoon workshops will take place on Disability Sports and Independent Living, finishing the day with a LEGO fundraising event.
  • A parallel, medically-focused discussion session supported by the NIRDP is available with our international experts as requested 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm.

Everyone is very welcome to attend all or part of the day; so please spread the word, and please do register to accommodate catering.

For further information and to register for attendance please contact Demelza at d.stuart@musculardystrophyuk.org

2. Vasculitis Ireland Awareness have organised the first Vasculitis Conference in Northern Ireland, on “Managing Vasculitis” in the Burrendale Hotel, Country Club and Spa, Newcastle, Co. Down BT33OJY, on Sunday 24th May 2015, 9am-5pm.  

Topics discussed will include:

  • Vasculitis- the Basics: Dr Dearbhla Kelly, Specialist Vasculitis Clinic, St James’ Hospital, Dublin;
  • How we can help ourselves: Self help and Symptom Management groups available in NI: Tricia Bowers, Arthritis Care
  • How to get the most from our appointments: Kieran Brogan, Patient Advocate
  • Pain Management: Patricia Mc Crystal, Chartered Counselling Psychologist- Specialist in Persistent Pain, Southern  Health and Social Care Trust
  • Renal Patient View and the Importance of Registries: Dr Damian Fogarty, Consultant Nephrologist Belfast Health and Social Care Trust with special interest in research; and
  • How to improve our Health and Well Being: Dr Caroline Harper, Executive Medical Director/ Director of Public Health, Public Health Agency NI

The cost is £27.50 per person, including  lunch and refreshments.

There will  be information stands on how to access help, benefits, aids and appliances, and information on courses available to help maintain and regain independence.

This event will be of interest to anyone interested in improving management of a long-term chronic condition.

Register online at https://managingvasculitis.eventbrite.co.uk

For more details contact Julie at 02844 842889

 

Watch this space for details on the forthcoming Ataxia UK Conference (Radisson Blu Hotel, Gasworks, Belfast; 20 and 21 June 2015); and on NIRDP’s own forthcoming events…

 

 

 

 

Michael’s speech on living with rare disease

One of the most powerful speakers we know is Michael Holden. We were all struck by his speech at Stormont for the launch of the Living Every Day with Rare Disease survey, and are delighted that he has published it on the DisabilityPride website.

Christine Collins, Michael Holden & Alison Wilson
Christine Collins, Michael Holden & Alison Wilson

Having a rare disease is a fight in itself, being excluded form society because access is seen as a ‘have to’ option rather than a ‘like to’ option. The built environment and public services are difficult to access, government don’t want to support us and they don’t want to improve the world for us so that we can support ourselves. It really is hard to win.

We have a rare disease often leading to a disability. We want to live our life in dignity not pigeon holed and placed on a conveyor to the grave.

I’m a husband, a father, a friend, an employer, a fighter, a tax payer, a worker, a Christian, I’m active, I’m Michael Holden, I’m alive and I’m planning to keep it that way.

Find out more about the Disability Pride parade and concert being held on 20th September 2014 here. Start planning your day out!