Behind the Scenes - A Q&A with Peter Boyd We caught up with Peter Boyd our Services Support Officer in Arthritis Ireland who recently attended the EULAR congress. We asked Peter to share a little bit about what he’s been up to and some background to the new clinic referral programme which is being rolled out nationwide. Read our conversation with Peter below. Peter, can you please introduce yourself and your role in Arthritis Ireland. I’m the Services Support Officer with Arthritis Ireland. My main role is to manage our national helpline and online support services. This was particularly stressful and busy throughout the lockdowns of Covid-19, however, it was extremely rewarding at the same time to offer support and information to my peers. Our national helpline is now a fully cloud-based system with volunteers all over the country. Can you share a little about of background on the Clinic Referral Program, the new initiative that you’re leading? The Clinic Referral Programme came from my own experience of being diagnosed with arthritis and talking to the newly diagnosed via our helpline service. It is very common for people to feel lost, upset and anxious about the future. Our clinic referral programme provides a direct route from the clinic making the diagnosis, to the support of Arthritis Ireland and the support services we have to offer. Rather than handing our contact details to people as they are diagnosed, with their consent, their details are sent directly to Arthritis Ireland, and it is our responsibility to contact them. While the rheumatology clinics focus on diagnosis, treatment and medication, we can discuss lifestyle issues, employment, relationships and any concerns they may have. How is the rollout going? After a successful pilot between October 2021 and January 2022, the programme is currently being rolled out to all public rheumatology clinics around the country. I am visiting the public clinics in person to promote this innovative new service. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet multiple members of the rheumatology teams in the various clinics. We can take referrals from any members of the team – CNS, ANP, specialist physiotherapists and/or rheumatologists – so it is important that everyone understands how the programme works and their role in it. By the end of the summer 2022 we will have all public clinics feeding patients into our referral programme and reducing the isolation and loss felt by the newly diagnosed. You were also at EULAR Congress recently, for anyone who might not know, can you share what were you doing there? EULAR (European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology) represents the people with arthritis (PARE), health professionals in rheumatology (HPR) and scientific societies of rheumatology in Europe. Congress gathers all pillars together to share clinical innovations and basic science, with sessions and insights from the PARE, HPR and industry partners. I have been involved as a volunteer with PARE for many years, chairing sessions, delivering speeches and organising the Congress sessions. In 2022, I’ve been elected Chair-Elect of EULAR PARE and I’m delighted to represent the thousands of people living with all types of arthritis across Ireland and Europe. That is fantastic Peter! And from this year’s conference were there key insights or learnings that stood out? I attended all of the PARE sessions at Congress and was able to learn from all the other national organisations that shared their best practice programmes and projects. All these ideas can then be evaluated to see what will be helpful and feasible in an Irish context. A Danish programme on healthy eating involving dietitians and occupational therapists on the process of preparing healthy meals while living with an RMD really stood out. As did a Dutch study on improving communication between health professionals and patients by developing communication aids. This reinforced the importance of our current patient empowerment campaign in securing better outcomes for those living with arthritis. Thanks so much for sharing Peter, we’re excited to see really excited to the Clinic Referral Program evolve and where your new position in Eular takes you!