Managing Long Term Health Conditions

We’re living in a society where we’re fortunate to live longer and benefit from ever-improving health care. However, an ageing population means we’re much more likely to live with at least one long term health condition such as asthma, heart disease or arthritis.

Government figures on long term conditions tell us that:

Around 15 million people in England, or almost one in three of the population, have a long term condition.

Half of people aged over 60 in England have a long term condition.

People with long term conditions account for 29% of the population, but use 50% of all GP appointments and 70% of all inpatient bed days.

The NHS budget is shrinking. Increasingly, care is being moved out of hospitals and into the community, while unplanned hospital admissions are a primary target for reduction. To effectively manage long term conditions we must improve self-management of our health. This in turn will minimise the chances of our health becoming unstable and requiring emergency treatment.

“When I lost my balance function in 2007 Tai Chi Movement helped me find a way to gain some control over my body.  I wanted more than the NHS was offering at that time and I felt Tai Chi could probably help. I learned, and still continue to learn, to listen to my body to help compensate for the signals I no longer get from the balance system in my ears.  I would like to be able to offer it to the patients I see at work who have balance difficulties.”

 Hearing and Balance Therapist, University Hospital Birmingham
Gemma Mole

How TMW can make a difference

TMW improves mindfulness of the body and supports self-care. It introduces gentle exercise, flexibility and balance and can be practised seated or standing. TMW encompasses the approach of embodied mindfulness; this is designed to help manage distress, worry and anxiety – bringing a calmer and healthy mind in line with a balanced and healthier body.

One group’s story

Tai Chi has been used to support a group of women at the Haven, a charity organisation in Hereford for women with breast cancer. The group was interested in exploring less conventional treatments and turned to Tai Chi. For many of the women, the benefits exceeded their expectations.

“I have gained far more than I ever expected.”

“I go away feeling totally different … my life has changed since I started Tai Chi”

In terms of their experience, many women found that Tai Chi helped them to relax and better manage their anxiety. Some also sensed a feeling of empowerment of their health conditions.

“I had severe radiotherapy burns and had lost a lot of confidence. Through Ta Chi I have regained a lot of my confidence.”

Perhaps the most profound difference Tai Chi has made to these women is in their relationship with their cancer.

“The cancer is now in the background, it’s behind me, I’ve moved on.”

“It allows you to be in the right frame of mind to see health professionals, to be receptive and accepting of treatments. It changes everything around!”