Sock it to Lymphoedema

06/03/2020

As part of Lymphoedema Awareness Week (2-8th March 2020) our Lymphoedema Service are encouraging staff members throughout the Trust to wear odd socks to “sock it to Lymphoedema” to raise awareness of the condition.

This year we are focussing on older people and are delighted that Residential Nursing Homes across the Western Trust area have got involved with raising awareness of this condition.

Lymphoedema affects 240,000 men, women and children in the UK. Within the Western Trust there are currently over 1,000 patients known to the Lymphoedema Service and yet it is still not a widely recognized condition.

The Lymphoedema Service in the Western Trust was set up in 2010. The team is located throughout the Western Trust area with outpatient clinics in Altnagelvin Hospital, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex and South West Acute Hospital. The treatment provided by the Lymphoedema Service includes advice, skincare, exercise, specific massage techniques to encourage lymphatic drainage and the use of compression bandaging or garments.

Patients with lymphoedema are more susceptible to infection known as cellulitis and it is very important for this to be treated promptly. Every episode of cellulitis is felt to impact on the lymphatic system further.

Commenting on the condition Jill Hamilton, Western Trust Clinical Lead for Lymphoedema, explains: “Lymphoedema is a chronic long term condition which can have a significant impact on patients both physically and psychosocially. Awareness of the condition within Northern Ireland and within the Western Trust locality has improved over the last number of years as evidenced by the growing demand on the service.

Jill continued: “Raising awareness of the condition has been embedded into the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland work plan for the last 10 years and continues to be something we work on within our own Trust area. This year we were delighted to get the opportunity to do some training within the residential nursing homes as we are seeing more and more patients coming through with dependency oedema and lymphorrhea. Early detection and early referral to the service can lead to a better outcome for patients, in the long term, by providing the necessary skills to be able to self-manage their condition.”

Lymphoedema can affect people very differently and it is important to complete an appropriate assessment to ensure patients are managed appropriately.

For more information regarding Lymphoedema and related services please click here.