HIBBING — In just two weeks, those living with long-term health issues will have the opportunity to participate in a new series of workshops here on the Central Range.

“Living Well with Chronic Conditions” will begin on Wednesday, Oct. 5. The nationally-recognized workshops are being offered by Fairview Range and being held at Hibbing Community Senior Citizen Center (HCSCC).

“We are very excited to be offering this life changing program,” said Cheryl Bisping, Fairview community health outreach coordinator. “This workshop is free and available to anyone in our service area.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about half of all adults — 117 million people — had one or more chronic health conditions in 2012. One of four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.

The CDC goes on to report that seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2010 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases — heart disease and cancer — together accounted for nearly 48 percent of all deaths.

This new Living Well workshop series is a result of the Fairview Range’s 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment, which identified that people in this area have a high rate of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and asthma as well as depression and anxiety.

Fairview Community Health then looked into the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) developed by Stanford University’s Patient Education Research Center and decided to implement the evidence-based program system-wide to combat the chronic diseases in our communities, according to Bisping.

“The workshops are geared toward anyone who has a chronic health condition or is a support person for someone with a chronic condition, such as a family member, friend or caregiver,” she said.

Caregivers are welcome to attend, but are expected to participate in the class.

Bisping, who is also a workshop leader for the CDSMP, said the Living Well workshop series provides practical ways to help improve self-management skills of people with long-term health issues. Participants will learn about managing their condition to maintain an active and fulfilling life.

“The goal is to help people with chronic health conditions build skills and knowledge in order to manage and improve their health,” she explained.

Lessons will be focused on self-management strategies, including decision making, problem solving, the importance of physical activity, understanding emotions, and communicating with doctors, family and friends.

“By taking part in a Living Well program, participants will learn better ways of coping and managing their health,” said Bisping. “This program will not conflict with existing programs or treatment. It was designed to enhance regular treatment and disease-specific education.”

Taught by specially-trained volunteer leaders — some who have health conditions themselves — the program covers a new topic each week and provides opportunities for interaction and group problem solving.

“The group leaders are really more like coaches,” said Bisping. “The answer to someone’s question is usually found in the room.”

Participants will develop confidence and motivation to meet the challenges of living well with a chronic condition and will receive support from the peer leaders and other attendees in creating a plan to improve health and well-being.

Workshops will be conducted once a week from noon to 2:30 p.m. for six weeks. Dates are: Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26 and Nov. 2 and 9. Each participant will receive a copy of the companion book.

The workshops will be held at HCSCC, which meets all the criteria set forth by Stanford University.

“This program is meant to be taught out in the community where people usually go and feel comfortable versus in a healthcare setting,” said Bisping, adding that HCSCC welcomed the partnership. “… It’s a win-win for both of us. We welcome other agencies and organizations to partner with us as well.”

Cheryl Danculovich, volunteer at HCSCC, said they are very excited to partner with Fairview on this “much needed event.” HCSCC is located in the Memorial Building at 400 E. 23rd St.

“It’s amazing how many people are affected by chronic pain and so many other afflictions,” she said. “It should be a great fit for the community.”

The CDSM program has undergone extensive evaluation in several countries and has been proven effective across socio-economic and education levels, said Bisping. The health benefits persist over a two-year period, even when disability worsens.

“In a five-year research project, the CDSMP was evaluated in a randomized study involving more than 1,000 subjects,” said Bisping. “This study found that people who took the program, when compared to people who did not take the program, improved their healthful behaviors such as exercise, cognitive symptom management, coping and communications with physicians, improved their health status including self-reported health, fatigue, disability, social/role activities and health distress, and decreased their days in the hospital.”

Fairview Range plans to measure the effectiveness and impact of this new program by using evaluation tools created by the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging and Stanford.

“Participant surveys will be conducted upon workshop completion and six months following the completion of the workshop,” noted Bisping.

As an extra incentive, each person who attends all six of the workshop sessions and completes the evaluation survey will be given a $25 gift card. After six months, class attendees who complete a follow-up evaluation survey will receive an additional $25 gift card.

Register by Sept. 28 by calling Cheryl Bisping at (218) 312-3012 or Tiffany Utke at (612) 706-4566. You can also register online at https://livingwell-hibbing.eventbrite.com.

Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging, Bisping said Fairview Range hopes to offer the Living Well workshop series a minimum of twice a year in years 2017-2018.

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