Probably the best meeting in the World

More reflections on SIP 2017

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You know what it’s like. You realise at the time that you are involved with something important. Then you get home and start thinking ‘wow’, that really was probably the best and most important meeting in the World when it comes to the problem of pain: SIP 2017.

The problem of pain is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing society, and most people don’t even realise. Up to 441 billion Euros is the cost of chronic pain each year. That is an enormous financial burden that does nothing to describe the suffering endured. This can and must change. Attitudes and beliefs in society need a drastic update in line with what we really know about our potential as human beings for fostering change. Out with the old messages, out with interventions and medicines as the way to solely ‘manage’ pain, out with the notion that pain equates to tissue damage. Out, out, out!

“out with the old messages and in with the real understanding of pain. Then society knows that this suffering can ease

It was fascinating and enlightening to hear so many European clinicians and stakeholders talking about people (patients), the importance of healthcare professional education, and even the word coaching was used. In the room were people looking at pain from all angles, a unique blend in the first place. This set the scene for deep discussion, learning and results.

The openness to ideas and modern thinking about pain was refreshing. The people at SIP 2017 want to understand, want to learn and above all want to make a difference. And we can make a difference by persevering and looking at every possible way to change the way society thinks about pain ~ understand pain to change pain.

No single group dominated the meeting. Instead the forum was truly free for each person to contribute and put forward their thinking and experiences. We heard people talk about their pain, and they were able to discuss this with scientists, clinicians and policy makers in an environment created purposefully. It seems that clinicians ‘worry’ about conferences or meeting where people with pain and suffering can speak about their lives. Instead, this should be encouraged and embraced as we get to the bottom of the problem and take real steps forward. How useful is a conference where academics or clinicians speak about cases and research without ant real stories in the room?

“the openness to ideas and modern thinking about pain was refreshing

My intention is to build and cement relationships with other stakeholders across Europe, be involved with the new EU platform, contribute with UP and Pain Coach workshops and take action in line with the vision of UP: a society that understands pain.

SIP statement

‘The European Commission is following SIP’s lead and has launched the EU Health Policy Platform to build a bridge between health systems and policy makers. Among other health policy areas, the societal impact of pain is included as well and will have a dedicated expert group.’

In the UK we must take this example of how we can move forward. Pain is a societal issue and hence we need to hear from all stakeholders, in particular patient representative groups. The lived experience of the person is the basis of what we are working with to overcome pain. We are seeking to change the story so that the person can say: I feel like myself. Change is what people want, defined in their own terms by things that they want to do in their life. We can and must work on a number of levels to achieve this and we can and must be optimistic. Why? Because we are changing every moment, we are designed to change and need to know how.

Our quality of life is determined by how we feel. How we feel is determined by what we are thinking (consciously and subconsciously). What we are thinking is based on our beliefs about the world, and these stem from all the influences in our life. The moment to moment decisions and actions we take through the day shape our life and the ‘rating’ we give to our life. However, there is constant change afoot and we can harness the opportunity this creates by making decisions to commit to a particular pathway. The pathway is determined by the practices chosen in line with a desired outcome. Being determined to be the best you, with a clear vision and being coached to achieve success and long-term results transforms the experience. This is the essence of Pain Coaching.

With 100 million people suffering pain in Europe, 100 million Americans suffering and the rest of the World following the same theme, we must create the conditions for change. This starts with the understanding of pain because when people truly understand their pain, they realise their potential and a way forward. There can be a role for medication and interventions on occasion, but with this being a societal problem, there are many other actions that empower and enable people to overcome their pain. Together we can do this as a modern society. We have the means and with the costs so high, we have the impetus.

RS

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