Date: 18 September 2017
Category: Childhood Eczema
Eczema Outreach Scotland is the support charity for families of children affected by eczema in Scotland. Set up in 2011 by the mother of a child with eczema, the group now provides a range of practical and emotional support services to over 850 families struggling to cope with the condition, on a 1-1 and group basis.
The impact of eczema on the individual and their family is vastly underestimated and misunderstood. While we help with practical tips and emotional support, a significant part of our work is spent helping vulnerable families to understand their treatment plan and stick to it. Patients and carers sometimes also need support attending and making the most out of their primary and secondary care consultations. By providing consistent information and building confidence, we often see families starting to manage their child’s eczema better, feeling empowered to deal with the condition in a variety of ways and asking for help from others too.
Many parents find school a challenge when it comes to managing their child’s eczema. By working with the family, the teachers and head teacher, we can help build successful partnerships to develop a healthcare plan which will dramatically increase the child’s wellbeing during school hours, physically, socially and emotionally. Our outreach team also runs workshops in our members’ classrooms to educate their peers about eczema and its impact on life.
Working with clinicians and as part of their professional networks is very important to our team, not only to build their knowledge and skills, but also to help each other for the benefit of the patients. For instance, clinicians signpost vulnerable families to the charity, knowing that they will receive extra support which will in turn increase their ability to follow their treatments and cope better with the condition. Dermatology consultants and nurses also help share good practice by coming to our family support events as guest speakers. Finally, we represent our members’ voice at NHS meetings and for research projects, maximising patient engagement at all levels in the field of dermatology.
While our services play a big role complementing the NHS care for families with eczema in Scotland, there are many more issues on hand. For example clarifying the link between allergy and eczema with families, debunking myths relating to steroids, and helping families develop a critical (evidence based) view about new or private treatments.
Beyond the medical aspect of dealing with eczema, we also aim to address the impact of eczema on mental health. Due to their eczema, children and teens can quickly develop low self-esteem and confidence, be bullied at school or become socially isolated.
Is there a magic formula to help families struggling with eczema? We know from our experience that their quality of life can be significantly improved when they have access to primary care clinicians with extra training in dermatology, a clear treatment plan to follow at home and revise on a regular basis, and a strong network of support. Feeling empowered and confident about treatments and coping strategies can turn lives around and bring back hope to families who were spiralling down into despair behind closed doors.
CEO of Eczema Outreach Scotland, Magali Redding, discusses a networked approach to supporting individuals and their families living with eczema.
CEO of Eczema Outreach Scotland