Sock it to Lymphoedema 2019

07/03/2019

Sock it to Lymphoedema 2019As part of Lymphoedema Awareness Week (3-9th March 2019) the Western Trust Lymphoedema Service are encouraging staff members throughout the Trust to wear odd socks to “sock it to Lymphoedema” to raise awareness of the condition.

Patients and family members have got involved with raising awareness in local schools and universities and the Mayor of Derry also getting in on the “sock it to Lymphoedema” action with a patient group.

Lymphoedema affects 240,000 men, women and children in the UK. Within the Western Trust there are currently over 1,000 patients known to the Lymphoedema Service and yet it is still not a widely recognized condition.

The Lymphoedema Service in the Western Trust was set up in 2010. The team is located throughout the Western Trust area with outpatient clinics in Altnagelvin Hospital, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex and South West Acute Hospital. The treatment provided by the Lymphoedema Service includes advice, skincare, exercise, specific massage techniques to encourage lymphatic drainage and the use of compression bandaging or garments.

Patients with lymphoedema are more susceptible to infection known as cellulitis and it is very important for this to be treated promptly. Every episode of cellulitis is felt to impact on the lymphatic system further.

Commenting on the condition Jill Hamilton, Western Trust Clinical Lead for Lymphoedema, explains: “Lymphoedema is a chronic long term condition which can have a significant impact on patients both physically and psychosocially. Awareness of the condition within Northern Ireland and within the Western Trust locality has improved over the last number of years as evidenced by the growing demand on the service.

She continued: “Raising awareness of the condition has been embedded into the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland work plan for the last eight years and continues to be something we work on within our own Trust area. Early detection and early referral to the service can lead to a better outcome for patients, in the long term, by providing the necessary skills to be able to self-manage their condition.”

“After last year’s successful Lymphoedema Awareness Week we saw a significant increase in the number of referrals we received. When one of the parents was asked recently about lymphoedema and what she felt others should know about the condition she responded:

“While lymphoedema cannot be cured it can be managed effectively. This requires support and understanding from healthcare professionals and commitment from patients to self-care.  Having two children with lymphoedema has changed our lives immensely. We are continually monitoring their condition and have had to learn to fit it into our lives.  We have always advocated that there needs to be a greater awareness around lymphoedema and are delighted to see lymphoedema awareness week get bigger and better each year.”

Lymphoedema can affect people very differently and it is important to complete an appropriate assessment to ensure patients are managed appropriately.

For more information regarding Lymphoedema and related services please visit; www.westerntrust.hscni.net or contact; 028 8283 3134 lymphoedema.service@westerntrust.hscni.net