New Parkinson’s support group for Norfolk patients

Nurse Katrine Kiertzner. Picture Matthew Usher.

Nurse Katrine Kiertzner. Picture Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A support group for people who have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease is to begin this week in Norfolk.

The Parkinson's Education Support Group, run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), in conjunction with Parkinson's UK, is for newly-diagnosed patients and their families, with the aim of empowering them to live with and manage their condition.

The group is organised by a team of NCH&C's neurology nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, and runs several times a year. The next group starts on Friday, April 24, at North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital.

During the weekly sessions, patients are taught useful exercises and learn how to manage anxiety, reduce the risk of falls and maintain their relationships. Each week special guests, including dieticians, speech and language therapists are invited to attend the meetings to help promote health and wellbeing.

Katrine Kiertzner, specialist neurological nurse at NCH&C, said: 'The aim of the workshops is to help people stay positive. We want to help them maintain themselves, and their sense of themselves, by helping them to stay working, keep up their hobbies and keep their relationships healthy as well.

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'We show patients ways to stay active, have a good diet, advise them on when to take their medication, and promote a positive outlook. We show them how to find ways around challenges they may have and let them know how to get in touch with us when they need to.'

Lisa Fiddy, 49, from Spixworth, was diagnosed with Parkinson's three years ago after experiencing symptoms including a shaking arm and anxiety. 'I was devastated,' said Lisa. 'I was with my husband when I received the news and we felt like falling off our chairs; that's the only way to describe the shock.'

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Following her diagnosis, Lisa and her husband, George, were invited to attend NCH&C's Parkinson's Education Support Group. 'When I arrived at the first meeting I was too scared to go in, but because George was with me I forced myself to do it,' she said. 'After about 15 minutes I felt at ease and even wished that the session had lasted longer.

'At the course you learn how you can deal with the symptoms, but you're also encouraged to push yourself and set goals. It teaches you how to make the best of life.

'I learned techniques to help me stepping through doors and get in and out of chairs, as well as breathing exercises for when I became stressed. Some of the things they suggest are really small things, but they really make the world of difference.

'I would highly recommend this course. It brought me out of myself again.'

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