Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust has won an international award for an innovative service developed by its Multiple Sclerosis (MS) team in partnership with a former local GP who lives with MS.
Inspired by a conversation with Dr Colin Bannon about how receiving better health and lifestyle advice can help people manage MS, consultant neurologist Dr Agne Straukiene and her team developed the Healthy Lifestyle Clinic.
For the past three years, every person South Devon with newly diagnosed MS has been offered the opportunity to join the clinic and meet with other people living with the condition.
Together they are able to find out more about MS and the treatments available, as well as exploring how a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve brain health.
Thanks to the clinic, the MS team have won their first MS Brain Health Team Award (2022) which recognises the unique service they provide.
Dr Straukiene said: “Winning this international award is just amazing.
“To be recognised by our international peers for the work we are doing in Torbay and South Devon is simply fantastic.
“I could not be prouder of our team and our patients and what we have achieved together.
“Our vision as an organisation is better health and care for all and this is what we are striving to achieve.
“We want to make sure that people living with long-term conditions such as MS have the best chance of living long and healthy lives.
“By offering advice, help and support with a particular focus on heart and brain health as well as connecting people living with MS together to share their experiences and learning we are supporting people to live well.
“I would like to express my personal thanks to Dr Colin Bannon for his passion and dedication and for working with us to make this idea a reality.”
Dr Bannon said: “The diagnosis of MS is a life changing event, but once the dust settles, a positive approach is important.
“There is now so much that can now be done to treat MS that optimism is realistic.
“This clinic gives patients the time to meet, share experiences with other people with MS and learn how much we can do ourselves to maintain and improve our own brain health.”
Valerie Bailey who was diagnosed with MS in 2018 joined the Healthy Lifestyle Clinic when it was launched and says she hasn’t looked back.
“My only power against MS is my health.
“Thank you for showing me that although there are treatments, being active and healthy is key in the fight against MS.”
Lorne Smyth, moved to South Devon for a slower and healthier lifestyle after being diagnosed with MS in her mid-twenties.
“This coincided nicely with the advent of the Healthy Lifestyle Clinic, where I found the perfect combination of a brilliant support network and the most enthusiastic care team I could ever have hoped for,” she said.
“This has inspired me to continue with a healthy diet and exercise so I can work full time yet have some energy to enjoy my spare time. It’s been life changing.”
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