Consumer experience of chronic pain to shape new model of care

People with experience of chronic pain are being called on to help redesign health services to ensure there’s a range of support across community and specialist services.

The new project, which sits under CCN (Canterbury Clinical Network), will explore how the model could be reshaped to support people earlier, within the community, so that specialist care is available for those who need it the most.

Chelsea Skinner, who provides a youth perspective on CCN’s Leadership Team and is consumer lead for the Chronic Pain project, stressed the importance of the new group having a wide range of voices from people with different experiences of chronic pain.

“The term chronic pain covers a broad spectrum of conditions which means people have very different experiences – of pain, the extent it impacts their day-to-day lives, and the treatment and support they receive. 

“We want the new model to be responsive to the whole range of chronic pain and in a variety of environments that work for our people. The group will create a space for consumers to share their experiences and work alongside clinicians to co-design a new approach.”

Chronic pain, sometimes known as persistent pain, often starts as an injury, accident, or illness and can last weeks to years. Around one in six New Zealanders live with chronic pain*, but often experience different symptoms and outcomes. It can persist day-to-day, or come and go in acute episodes.

Ken Stewart, clinical lead for the project, says there’s strong evidence that earlier intervention leads to better outcomes for individuals, their whānau and the health system.

“Intervening early during the development of chronic pain can reduce the risk of long-term disability, which means better quality of life for people with chronic pain and a reduction in them needing acute care and specialist interventions.

“We want to mitigate some of those long-term impacts, including having time off work or school and consequently feeling isolated from community activities, or having low self-esteem, poor mental health, difficulties in relationships and socioeconomic disadvantage,” Ken continued.

The project team is calling for Cantabrians who have direct experience of living with chronic pain, or caring for others who live with chronic pain to join a group that will meet monthly (in person or online) for one-two hours. This is a paid role (remuneration policy here).

If you would like to express your interest in participating or nominate a peer, complete the nomination form and return via email to Project Manager gareth.frew@ccn.health.nz by Friday 19 August 2022.  

* Health Navigator, July 2022 

About the Author