Kentucky Homeplace Partnerships Increase Client Access to Chronic Disease Self-Management Education and Walking Programs

MEDIA CONTACT: Beth Bowling, beth.bowling@uky.edu, 606-439-3557


Hazard, Ky.
(Aug. 17, 2017) –  Kentucky Homeplace, a well-established Community Health Worker (CHW) program founded at the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UKCERH) in 1994, has partnered with WellCare of Kentucky, the Kentucky Department for Aging and Independent Living and the Kentucky Department of Public Health to provide clients opportunities to participate in a series of Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) health coaching workshops.  Participants also have the opportunity to participate in Walk with Ease (WWE), a program developed by the Arthritis Foundation to help people, particularly those with arthritis pain, safely become more active.

The CDSMP was developed and tested at Stanford University as a community-based health education program to assist people with chronic illness.  Participants meet weekly for six weeks in a community setting where trained facilitators help them make improvements in nutrition, medication use, exercise, communication, decision-making and more.

WWE has been studied by the Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging of the University of North Carolina. The program has been shown to help reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis; increase balance, strength and walking pace; build confidence in participants’ ability to be physically active and generally improve overall health.

Nearly 500 people have participated in WWE and CDSMP workshops during the last year.  Workshops will continue until the end of 2017.

“Kentucky Homeplace has 22 CHWs across 30 Kentucky counties who are trained to facilitate Walk with Ease and CDSMP workshops,” said Fran Feltner, DNP, director of the UKCERH, where Kentucky Homeplace was developed and continues as a cornerstone of the center’s many programs geared toward improving the health of rural Kentuckians.  Feltner is also the principal investigator for Kentucky Homeplace.

“It is a wonderful thing to see participants in a mutually supportive group setting gain the knowledge and confidence necessary to become proactive in managing their health,” said William Mace Baker, director of Kentucky Homeplace.

“Unfortunately, valuable programs like these are out of reach for many people due to barriers including lack of transportation,” said Baker.  “We are very thankful for WellCare’s partnership and support that is enabling us to provide many of these participants with gift cards for fuel to offset travel cost to and from the workshops,” Baker added.

“It is exciting to partner with other groups and organizations to deliver these much needed services. Sadly, ‘no transportation’ is a frequently cited problem for people when they miss medical appointments,” said Dr. Howard Shaps, medical director for WellCare of Kentucky. “Greater access to health care has been related to better health status, more frequent use of preventive services, and lower hospitalization rates,” said Shaps.

Clients participating in the programs have given positive feedback.  “The program is wonderful in itself.  I have already noticed a difference,” said one participant who recently completed WWE.

“Where I live, the elevator is not working and I have to walk three flights of stairs to get to my apartment,” she said.  “Since I started the Walk with Ease program I have noticed that I am not as out of breath as I use to be. The program has not only helped my arthritis, the exercise has helped my lung capacity and I am able to breathe better,” she said.

“We recognize the tremendous impact of these partnerships, as 100 percent of our CHWs have been able to complete valuable training that builds upon their existing knowledge and skills, their positions as experienced leaders in their community and their trusting relationships with the clients they serve,” said Feltner. “It is a win, win as the CHWs are able to reach the clients they serve with lifesaving information to improve health outcomes and knowledge of disease self-management,” Feltner said.

For more information about Kentucky Homeplace, CDSMP or WWE, contact mace.baker@uky.edu or 855-859-2374.

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Photo: Chronic Disease Self-Management and Walk With Ease workshops were conducted throughout eastern Kentucky, including the one pictured here facilitated by Kentucky Homeplace CHWs Elizabeth Smith and Shirley Prater in Carter County at the Friendship House Chapel in Grayson.

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