Joint Potential: Self-management and clinic support – review and evaluation

Joint Potential is part of Versus Arthritis’ Young People and Families Service in Scotland and supports those aged between 16 and 25 who have arthritis. Joint Potential is a peer support and self-management programme, that delivers a workshops to support young people with all aspects of their condition. It is also embedded in rheumatology services to make sure there is an integrated and holistic approach to supporting children, young people and families.

In 2016 we were successfully awarded five years funding via the Impact Fund from the Health & Social Care Alliance to support our aspirations and ultimately deliver Joint Potential Plus.

This funding transformed our work across Scotland. The impact of five years of sustainable funding has enabled the integration of our approach into rheumatology clinics across Scotland, opening up self-management support to young people and their families and firmly placing it on the agenda for patients from paediatric through to adult services.

Joint Potential Plus, has become a programme for real and lasting change. We have embedded new ways of working, and are delivering an award-winning self-management programme, with outstanding partnership collaboration across health teams with and for young people and which is integrated as part of NHS Rheumatology services. Joint Potential has supported young people with arthritis across Scotland for over ten years, working to deliver high-quality self-management support and establishing long-term partnerships across NHS Scotland.

The project provides a platform for young people to grow, share and learn together, ensuring their experience, and their voices are heard and can support and influence change for young people with arthritis and their families in the future. Joint Potential Plus alongside healthcare professionals has supported young people beyond their health and care needs, supporting them with work, further education, relationships, coming to terms with diagnosis and transitioning to adult services.

Not only has this been beneficial for young people and their families, but it has also had a positive impact on health professionals and health services with now established system change, developing a pathway and new ways of working in rheumatology. None of this could have been achieved without working together and without commitment and investment of our young people, our project volunteers and staff, rheumatologists and multi- disciplinary teams across Scotland.

A quote from a clinician:

“I know that medical support is just one element of what young people need – psychological support, family support, occupational support, physio etc – and all of these things, we as clinicians are not good at providing this support. They could be on the right medication but it could be the other issues that are affecting their progress. This is where the focus on the MDT has come from. So however clever the clinician is, if they are working solo, they won’t be able to deliver the right support for these people. We have been lucky to have a clinical psychologist and their support has made a big difference. But still that wasn’t enough because you need someone at the end of the phone, someone to link with education and employers, someone to support self-management and talk about common issues – this was the lacking part and this is where Joint Potential fitted in.”

In 2021, the project was reviewed to understand and demonstrate the impact of Joint Potential, particularly on the young people who had been supported, as well as draw out lessons learned so that the project can continue to develop and improve in the future.

Read the Joint Potential - 2016-2021 evaluation report.