Jason Gillette - The Arizona Living Well Institute - CDSMP
ImageFor those suffering from a chronic illness, day to day living is difficult to say the least. When medical professionals have no clear cut solutions and the prognosis is for a life-long battle with pain or discomfort, the result is downright depressing. During the 1990s a research grant was awarded to the Stanford University School of Medicine with the purpose of developing a community-based self-management program designed to help people with chronic illnesses. The resulting program has now been implemented on a global scale and is referred to as CDSMP – the Chronic Disease Self Management Program.

Stanford University still plays a key role in the program. Individuals taking the CDSMP curriculum at Stanford become T-Trainers whose role is to hold workshops and create a broader group of Master Trainers. They, in turn, become teachers and develop the core of the program’s interface with participants, the Lay Leaders.

Lay leaders run the community workshops that reach the participants who are trying to deal with their chronic illness. Lay leaders are truly peers with the participants in that each lay leader typically has a chronic disease. Who better to trust than someone who has been dealing with the same life altering situation? The participant’s specific illnesses may be different from the lay leader’s illness but the problems they face to conquer their illness are the same.

The workshops deal with a participant’s emotional health with subjects such as depression, fatigue, pain and isolation. Other subjects deal with proper use of medications; communicating with family and heath professionals; nutrition and exercise. Workshops are held at a number of community settings including senior centers, churches, libraries, clinics and hospitals.

The Arizona Living Well Institute is our local connection to the CDSMP network and is part of Empowerment Systems in Apache Junction. The number of CDSMP professionals in Arizona is growing. Our speaker, Jason Gillette, and his colleague, Lay Leader Jenna Burke who attended our meeting, will both become Master Trainers in the program. Arizona now has 46 Master Trainers and more than 350 Lay Leaders who are serving a client base of almost 1500 participants. The Living Well Institute partners with a number of health oriented agencies such as the Arizona Department of Health Services.