Charity research has found that Scots are struggling to find the support services they need
People living with long term health conditions are finding it increasingly difficult to access the support services they need to be able to live the life they want, new public research has found.
Commissioned by health and wellbeing charity the Thistle Foundation, the research confirms that almost one in three Scottish households is now home to at least one person living with a long term illness, health problem or disability.
At 30%, this figure has remained stable since a previous survey undertaken in 2013. But the research also shows that the percentage of these households who find it difficult to access the right support services for someone living with a long term condition has risen from 28% to 36% over the past five years.
Long-term conditions are defined by the research as being an illness, health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months. Undertaken in late 2017, the survey of 1,000 Scottish adults mirrors a similar exercise undertaken in May 2013. Responses were weighted to be representative of the Scottish population as a whole in terms of age, sex and class and the results were also broken down by geographic region.
The research suggests there are regional variations in the percentage of households affected by long-term health conditions and how easy or difficult people with such conditions find it to access the support services they need to live the life they want. But across Scotland as a whole, significantly more people with long term conditions are now finding it difficult to find suitable support services than five years ago.
Publication of the new research findings coincides with an ongoing campaign by Thistle to ‘stop the wait’ as demand for its services from people living with long term health conditions has intensified, leading to sometimes lengthy waiting times at its Centre of Wellbeing in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh.
Thistle chief executive Diana Noel Paton said: “A huge number of Scottish households are home to at least one person living with a long term health condition – and with funding for support services under concerted pressure, a growing number of people with a long term condition are finding it difficult to access the support they need to live the life they want.
“Against that background, demand for Thistle’s support from people living with long term health conditions in Edinburgh and the Lothians has never been stronger. A key strength of Thistle is that people needing support can self-refer. We listen to what a person tells us they need and we then tailor our support around that. We then work beside people until they are able to manage life without us.”
Dawn, a Thistle wellbeing practitioner, can speak from personal experience about how Thistle’s services have helped her to overcome her own physical and mental health challenges and to get her life back on-track.
She said: “I came to Thistle having been medically retired at the age of 40 with severe back pain and told I could never work again. Thistle listened and worked with me to develop my physical and emotional health until I was able to realise my personal dream to be able to swim again. I am also back at work, working as a health and wellbeing practitioner at Thistle, which I love.”