Epilepsy - the most common, serious neurological condition - is defined by the tendency to have recurrent seizures. Around 450,000 people in the UK have epilepsy, one in every 131 of the population. For many sufferers, the condition brings concerns way beyond the issue of seizure control and as disability, social exclusion and stigma can affect many aspects of their lives from transport difficulties and employment problems to difficulty in personal relationships.
Professor George Kernohan and Dr Wendy Cousins (pictured) and a team of researchers at Ulster’s School of Nursing joined forces with the charity Epilepsy Action to help devise better systems - including a care plan - for the co-ordination of epilepsy care based on current best practice.
The research team met with a total of 20 people with epilepsy and 10 family carers to discuss the effects of epilepsy on their lives and to help devise a care plan – an agreement between the patient and the health and social services to help manage epilepsy on a day-to-day basis.
Professor Kernohan and Dr Cousins presented their findings to the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Conference in Belfast this week.
Professor Kernohan described the project as ‘a powerful example of teamwork between patients, carers, researchers and advocates in finding a way to enhance care’.
Welcoming the care plan devised as a result of the project, Margaret Rawnsley, Research Administration Officer at Epilepsy Action said:
“The epilepsy care plan drawn up by the University of Ulster is unique as it has been developed in conjunction with service users. This ensures that it is relevant to them and addresses their needs.”
Further information from the conference website: http://www.bps.org.uk/dhp2010/