Multiple Sclerosis NZ (MSNZ) was proud to once again host the annual meeting for 23 MS Community Support Workers from across the country. With our 2020 training disrupted by the pandemic, and after a year in which many of our Regional Societies fundraising efforts had been hard hit, we were pleased to secure enough funds to cover 100% of the meeting, travel and accommodation costs of our attendees. Thank you to Roche, Biogen, Merck and Novartis for your ongoing support of the educational needs of MS Community Support Workers.
Gillian Fry, Manager and Lead Community Advisor for MS Wellington, describes below the impact of this important educational meeting.
In early May, all Community Support facing roles within the regions had the opportunity to get together in Christchurch for the 3 day MSNZ led training and development meeting. Not only was the learning beneficial but also the time to be able to network, share and support each other, as often we work independently or in some cases in isolation.
The programme kicked off with Fatigue Management training with the wonderful Jessie Snowden. This is such an important topic as we all know fatigue is one of the most prevalent symptoms of MS and has the added complication of being ‘invisible’ so can be hard to express to others. This is an excellent, well-researched and practical programme that I think everyone is excited about facilitating it or even learning more, to be able to work more confidently one on one with clients.
Chris Higgs then delivered a really good snapshot of Motivational Interviewing. He showed us how easy it was to integrate into conversations so it felt comfortable and natural and could be easily fed into client conversations to help them achieve their goals. It was a good fit with the Fatigue Management training and another tool in the facilitation kit.
We heard from MS Nurse specialist, Jessica Deacon, on diagnosing MS. Jessica was very flexible in answering many other questions. This was a practical session, sharing lots of relevant useful information and examples to help us work with people with MS.
The team from the Burwood Pain Management centre discussed their multidisciplinary (MDT) approach, explaining their roles in working with people with chronic pain. Interesting to note that medication is not the most effective treatment of chronic pain, and that integration of other methods (psychosocial) are proven to be most effective, hence the MDT approach. Really important for us to be aware of these aspects so we can support our clients through the process of chronic pain management.
Pharma presented an update on disease modifying therapies, insights into research and trials. I imagine these presentations would have been particularly useful for our new team members to create the big picture around MS treatments and the background given on MS as a condition.
It was great having the opportunity to work in groups reviewing MS information so that our ‘on the ground’ input can be thread into the review. Some exciting ideas and concepts came out of that session and directly led to a ‘sharing’ site on the intranet recently set up by Louise.
There was much hard work, a lot of laughter, great food and a real sense of teamwork over the 3 days.
It was a valuable use of our time providing helpful, practical and inspiring information which will help us help people with MS in the community. Huge thanks to the speakers, sponsors and MSNZ for pulling this all together for us!