Case Studies

Making Waves – Joint Potential Plus, Versus Arthritis

Section: Self Management and Co-Production HubType: Case Study

As part of the Making Waves series, find out how Versus Arthritis, Joint Potential Plus has made an impact on self management in Scotland.

As winners of the 2018 Self Management Partnership of the Year Award, we want to share with you the learning from Joint Potential Plus and how working in partnership has enabled positive approaches to support self management.

Joint Potential Plus is a development project which is part of the Joint Potential Programme of work. This programme sits under their Young People and Families’ Service in Versus Arthritis. Klaire Connor, Programme Manager shares her knowledge about the project.

“We know that we can only reach young people effectively by working collaboratively and developing a pathway with rheumatology services across Scotland. Therefore, this project is designed to establish a sustainable and integrated pathway for young people, aged between 16-25 years, with a form of arthritis or related condition and from our experience many will have multiple long-term conditions. This pathway means young people are referred to the programme through meeting our staff in clinic or referrals from health colleagues to our service.

The programme of Joint Potential self management and personal development activities is well established and has been running since 2009. Joint Potential is delivered by Youth Contact volunteers, who themselves are young people with arthritis who have been through a full programme with Joint Potential and then trained to become volunteers.  The peer support that young people receive is the critical aspect to this service and our aim is to enable every young person to have access to ‘others who live with arthritis and have similar experiences and know that they are not alone’. Through Joint Potential Plus we can work collaboratively within clinics to support this, and young people can get direct referrals from clinics to a self management event.

By working collaboratively to develop an integrated way of working we are able to complement what is delivered in clinic and tailor our offer to the specific team. We can support clinical staff, for example; working with patients, setting up events, information sessions in partnership with clinical colleagues for newly diagnosed or newly transitioned patients. All of these activities delivered within clinic have a focus on self management, and the patients appointment allows time for them to talk with us about self management and their particular needs. 

By a self management programme being integrated within rheumatology teams, we are able to receive referrals and provide support in clinic, meaning the young people can make contact with us and we can then provide dedicated and personalised non-clinical support, where needed, from first introduction and ongoing appointments.

Due to the nature of our relationship with young people through weekends, workshops and being able to connect more frequently, we are often first to hear of issues or concerns for patients.  By being part of the team, we are able to flag these up – with the young person’s consent – whether it be stress or anxiety, trouble at school or even noncompliance with medication.  We have a very joined-up approach to ensure patients get the best of care, from clinical care, to peer support through our networks and access to support and services.

Some examples;

  • Young people have direct access to information on self-management, and have a readymade peer support network they can access to enable them to manage their condition.
  • Being part of the team also means we get to know staff and the layout of the hospital, being able to give direction to X-ray department, the process of where to wait on blood test or even knowing where the nearest café is!
  • We are part of the rheumatology team, this means that self management is on the agenda from the beginning, including staff meeting and clinics.


We have not only had referrals from the rheumatology consultant but also from the clinical psychologist. The medical team are actively referring young people to the Joint Potential Programme. By working in close partnership, we have been able to work with young people in clinical settings as well as self management workshops. By working closely together, we are able to not just support young people to manage the clinical aspects of their arthritis, but we have been able to work with them to ensure that they feel in control of their lives and decisions.

Our partnership is just one of several our project has across Scotland, but the Rheumatology team in Aberdeen have embraced the self-management programme and through actively engaging with Joint Potential, both in in clinic and referring other patients outside the clinics we attend.

The openness and willingness of the rheumatology team in Aberdeen to work with a third sector organisation in such an integrated way has ultimately lead to why this partnership has been so successful. Our partnership is just that, a partnership.  We both bring different skills and knowledge to the young people we work with, both valuable in their own rights and both needed to ensure the young person is well cared for and supported.

We could work separately but by working together we are seeing young people become more confident, ask more questions and gain a better understanding of what it means to live with a long term health condition and to not just understand what it means to self manage, but also to put it into practice in ways that is not only beneficial to the young person but to our learning within the 3rd sector and the NHS.”

Find out more about the Joint Potential Plus Programme through their website (this link will take you away from our website).

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Versus Arthritis

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