The Positive Care Programme first ran in 2004 – providing support and learning for people with long term health conditions. The Programme introduces people to activities and therapies that can become part of their daily toolkit for living life and managing their condition.
Since the programme is aimed specifically at people who would not normally be able to afford the therapies and group activities on offer, it depends on external funding.  Unfortunately, the most recent funding (from the Big Lottery Fund) came to an end at the beginning of February 2017. Touchstone is currently looking into other opportunities to fund this work, since we know how beneficial it has been to many of the people who have attended over the years.
Here’s a brief look at the impact that the most recent Positive Care Programme courses have had.
During the last year, we worked with 157 people, made up of 4 large courses of up to 42 people each, as well as some smaller targeted groups of up to 12 people. Since it was recognised that many people had an initial anxiety about joining the group, we added an introductory session for the smaller groups, to help people to understand the aims of the programme and to feel safe within the group.
During this time, some of our programmes were targeted at specific groups: those with housing need; transgender people; asylum seekers and victims of torture; people fleeing violence; prison leavers. The courses were run at different locations, so that more people could attend without having to travel large distances.
At participants’ request, we introduced more learning on self-massage techniques, so that people could apply them at home.
The success of the programme was monitored partly by looking at participants use of crisis services and also by looking at each person’s health conditions and monitoring any changes in them. 60% of people in the final year said that their health had changed positively. There were reductions in GP appointments, hospital admissions, calls to crisis numbers, thoughts of suicide and incidents of self-harm. The saving to the NHS is estimated at £30,000.
Because the monitoring process is continuous and also gives people an opportunity to voice their feedback, it meant that all participants were able to help shape the evolution of the service.
The project worked with many partner organisations and all have asked to continue working with the Positive Care Programme when funding is resumed.
Thank you to the staff, therapists and volunteers who have supported Positive Care Programme up to now.

Who uses the Positive Care Programme?

During the year from February 2016 to January 2017, PCP participants were 71% white, 6% black, 4% mixed ethnic background, 2% Arab and 1% other backgrounds.
36% of participants were men and 64% were women (the number of men 2 years ago had been 21%, and we made a deliberate effort to engage more men this year.
65% of participants considered themselves disabled.
42% stated they had no religion, 34% were Christian, 11% Muslim, 2% Hindu, 1% Buddhist, 1% Jewish, 1% Sikh and 8% had other religions.
81% described themselves as heterosexual and 19% as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
The largest age group was 45-53 years old (29%), followed by 35-44 years (24%) 25-34 years (18%), 65-74 years (14%), 55-64 years (11%), 20-24 years (3%) and 65-74 years (1%). There were no participants younger than 20 or older than 74.