The HSE National Self-Management Support team is today (Wednesday, September 30th 2020) officially launching the Living Well Programme, a series of online workshops designed to offer support to people living with Long Term Health Conditions (LTHCs).

Thirty eight percent of Irish people over 50 years have one chronic condition and 65% of adults over 65 years have two or more Long Term Health Conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart conditions, stroke, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, depression and chronic pain.

  • Living Well is a free group programme which runs online for six weeks. There is one workshop a week which lasts 2.5 hours
  • Workshops are delivered in a relaxed and friendly way so that all participants can learn from each other. There are a maximum of 12 people in a programme
  • Two trained facilitators run the workshops each week. At least one of the facilitators lives with a long-term health condition.

Mary Shields, Living Well facilitator (and former participant) said:

The emotional support participants give each other is tangible and empowering, regardless of what their condition is. Participants gain a feeling of self-worth through being able to provide support or advice from their own experience to help someone who might be going through a similar thing. It is very rewarding, over the six weeks, to see participants grow in confidence and develop a sense of control over their health conditions and their lives.

The Living Well Programme has received Sláintecare Integrated Funding to enable delivery during 2020/2021. The programme was previously delivered in a face-to-face community setting, but it has been made available online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and National Drugs Strategy, said:

The Living Well Programme is a good example of how our HSE Community Services are evolving at this time to ensure that those who are at risk have a safe and convenient setting to stay in contact and get the support they need to continue to manage their health condition.

Since March, people with such conditions have been advised to take extra precautions and many were advised to cocoon. This has led to feelings of worry and stress. Living Well has proven to be effective in helping people to deal with difficult emotions, to understand and learn more about managing their condition, set goals, problem solve and make plans to live a healthier life.

Dr Derval Howley, Chair of Interim HSE National Advisory Group for Self Management Support, said:

People living with a long-term health condition are more at risk of serious illness if they get Coronavirus. In Ireland to date 37%* of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 have an underlying health condition.

People taking part in the workshops may have different health conditions, however they all face similar challenges – for example managing medications, attending healthcare appointments, communicating with healthcare professionals, coping with pain, fatigue and difficult emotions. Living Well is a fantastic free programme which builds confidence and helps participants develop the skills required to better manage their conditions in a supportive and safe way.

Watch this short video where Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director HSE Strategic Planning and Transformation, outlines the programme:

Anyone with a Long Term Health Condition interested in taking part in this programme can register by contacting their local Living Well Team, contact details of which are available at, or contact HSELive on 1850 24 1850 / 01 240 8720 or email [email protected].


Mary Shields, is a Living Well facilitator who has been living with Type 2 diabetes and arthritis for more than 20 years. Having completed a similar programme run locally 11 years ago through Arthritis Ireland, she has now trained as a CDSMP peer tutor and has delivered over 12 programmes.  Mary is now supporting the delivery of Living Well as part of the CHO1 HSE Living Well Programme team. 

Dr Derval Howley is Head of Health and Wellbeing within HSE South East Community Healthcare (HSE) and the Chair of the Interim National Advisory Committee for Self-Management Support. She has worked for many years both Nationally and Regionally with a focus on Social Inclusion. Derval obtained her PhD in Sociological Research from UCD in 2000.

Long Term Health Conditions

A long-term health condition is one that can be treated and managed but usually not cured. Examples include Asthma, COPD, Diabetes, Heart Conditions and Stroke.

38% of Irish people over 50 years have one chronic condition and 65% of adults over 65 years have two or more chronic conditions. The prevalence of diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as COPD continues to increase due to our ageing population and lifestyle behaviours.


Budget 2019 provided €20 million for the establishment of a Sláintecare Integration Fund (SIF) to test and scale how services can best be delivered. The Sláintecare Integration Fund sought submissions with a focus on prevention, community care and integration of care across all health and social care settings. 6 CHOs (Community Health Organisations) were successful in receiving SIF to roll out ‘Living Well, a programme for adults with long-term health conditions’.

Applications were invited for projects that will:

  • Promote the engagement and empowerment of citizens in the care of their own health
  • Scale and share examples of best practice and processes for chronic disease management and care of older people
  • Encourage innovations in the shift of care to the community or provide hospital avoidance measures.
  • Living Well is a Self-Management ResourceCentre (SMRC) Evidence Based Self-Management Programme originally developed at Stanford University. This is often referred to as Chronic Disease Self Management Programme (CDSMP).

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