Background League Against Rheumatism in Slovakia is a non-profit organization offering its services, counseling, advice, workshops and any other assistance to people affected with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. Centre for Psychological and Social Support is one of their new initiatives whose know-how is original, tailored-made according to long-term observations, analysis and as a reaction to special needs of the patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.
Objectives To provide clients, with information and advice about their rights and duties; to identify the needs of the clients; to search for alternative solutions for their problems; to motivate the clients to cooperate; to overcome the unfavourable situation; to cooperate with other professionals, institutions and family; to focus on the prevention of social isolation of disabled clients.
Methods The Centre for Psychological and Social Support is based on the work of a social worker and a clinical psychologist. The services are specific to the needs of patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) who are hospitalised at the National Institute of Rheumatic Diseases, regardless of age, and all the members of the League. The centre so far operates twice a week for two hours. One day is dedicated to social services. Social worker can see up to 7 patients a day. The social worker addresses specific issues of the clients from very basic to more complex, e.g. where to look for support in different departments of different institutions, legal advice, etc. She offers advice using regular language that clients understand. She is also a rehabilitation nurse, therefore can advise on correct rehabilitation devices and methods. The clinical psychologist can see up to two patients per day. One session lasts 45 – 50 minutes. Interestingly, the psychologist is affected with rheumatism herself, therefore can easily support clients who feel pain, who have problems with sleep, she can provide relaxation (also explain it to clients so it can be used at home). Moreover these services are offered free of charge. The League supports it with a public collection and a variety of sponsors.
Results The Centre for Psychological and Social Support has been opened since September 2014 at the National Institute of Rheumatic Diseases in Piestany. Since its beginning, offering services for 5 months, social services have been offered to up to 100 clients. The clinical psychologist has seen about 45 patients. Word-of-mouth feedback of the clients suggests that the centre is an important initiative that helps improve their lives. Growing number of clients shows interest in this centre. An electronic and paper survey for the social services is already prepared to be put in place from February 2015. This will provide the League with suggestions of improvement for the future. The clinical psychologist has her own methods of assessing the sessions but one can say that if clients seek the services on regular basis, then it is an important part of their treatment. The League is also exploring the opportunity to offer the services of an occupational therapist and expand the opening hours of the centre.
Conclusions Centre for Psychological and Social Support is a place where people can turn to when they need advice, information, support and encouragement. It is dedicated to people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases who face a variety of problems or just want somebody to talk to.
Disclosure of Interest None declared