Barnstaple Leg Club offers vital support for patients
By tinap | Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 14:15
Healing rates for people suffering from serious leg conditions in Barnstaple are on the rise thanks to the launch of a Leg Club.
Leg Club member Roy Pearce is pictured with chairman Cyn Richards
A member of Leg Club has his condition looked at by community nurse Meg Mew
A Leg Club member is booked in
The aim of the club, the first of its kind in the South West, is to provide care and support for people who have conditions such as a leg ulcer. It encourages people to get out and about, despite their condition, which for many can be socially isolating.
More than 30 patients have been referred by a GP or community nurse since its launch in April 2012, with almost half having healed compared to an average of 10 per cent in a clinical setting. The Leg Club is a nurse-led service provided by the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust and run by volunteers.
There are now plans to open more clubs across North Devon. Roy Pearce, who has a prosthetic left leg and severe leg ulcers on his right leg, was referred to the Barnstaple club by his GP.
He said: "Before I was referred to the club I had not left my house for three years.
"The only time I went out was if I had to go into hospital because an ambulance would come and get me and that was the only way I could get out. I really enjoy coming to the club and think it's a great thing. The nurses give you so much confidence and that can help you to heal quicker. I honestly believe that."
The Leg Club is held at the Living Wells Church in Barnstaple and has been funded by NHS Devon, Plymouth and Torbay for an initial 12-month period. During the pilot, patients who are usually seen by community nurses or patients referred from a GP practice included in the trial may attend the Leg Club.
Meg Mew, lead community nurse, said: "Leg ulcers and other lower leg conditions are socially isolating and disabling and it is easy for sufferers to think it is just them, but in fact they are very common.
"We have found that at first patients are reluctant to attend the club but once they actually get here and meet with others suffering from similar problems they enjoy it and look forward to coming each week.
"The benefits for both staff and members are huge. Rather than having one nurse visit their home members get the benefit of having their condition looked at by the tissue viability team.
Cyn Richards, chairman of Barnstaple Leg Club, said: "Leg Club is about promoting the social side available to members. When people have a condition such as a leg ulcer they often isolate themselves because ulcers can smell and they don't look very nice.
"The visit they get from the community nurse each week may be the only person they see from one week to the next and sufferers can become really lonely, so the social intervention the club provides is really important for their mental health as well."