On Thursday BDP hosted this year’s first Pain Management workshop. Held in partnership with the Pain Clinic Services from North Bristol NHS Trust, we sat down with Occupational Therapist, Bev, and BDP’s Mike Swanston to find out more about the course they’re running together.


Previously launched in 2017, BDP’s Pain Management workshop is a 6 week long course, where our service users living with chronic pain are invited to develop practical skills that can help them manage their pain more effectively and live a more fulfilled life.

Pain management is an art, not a science.

- Bev, North Bristol NHS

"We accept the pain, now let’s be curious about other things that influence pain," begins Bev. "What negatively influences pain, but also what positively influences pain and trying to build on those things."

With over 20 years’ experience as a pain specialist, running a series of groups at Southmead Hospital, Bev knows a thing or two about how to support people around their pain.

"Up at Southmead we do masses of different stuff for people with pain. But what we noticed is that people with persistent pain, who were known to BDP, weren’t accessing or couldn’t access that intervention.

"At BDP we’re still using all the evidence base techniques we know works with pain but tailored to the specific needs and accessibility here. We’re just saying ‘you have persistent pain, do you want to come?’ Let’s just do it as simply as that. We’re taking away the barriers."

Although the workshops are invitation-only, accessing support is simple, with BDP workers signposting appropriate service users to Mike who will then call them to invite them along.

Mike explains, "Our Shared Care workers know their service users and will have most of the conversation before even referring. The telephone conversation from my point of view is to help alleviate anxiety - they’ve spoken to someone who’s going to be there.

"It’s about making support networks. Today we started looking at social stuff and the benefits of keeping in contact with the group members afterwards."

Bev continues, "It’s a discussion based intervention and people make their own choices about doing things. As Mike says, the best thing is we’re being responsive to the needs of the room but having a structure in our thinking."

Bev turns to Mike, "It’s really fun seeing you at BDP today, because obviously you’re quite quiet up in Southmead because it’s a different role."

In preparation for their workshop, Mike has been shadowing Bev at one of her Pain Clinic’s in Southmead for the past six weeks.

It’s a shared learning that we’re trying to do between the two organisations. What I learn from here about Opiate use can be translated to my client group. This group is part of a bigger learning experience.

- Bev, North Bristol NHS

"Mike and I have come straight from Southmead. Mike’s there as an observer to look at pain management strategies from his perspective. We get anyone coming to observe to participate whether they’ve had pain or not. Even as facilitators we participate a bit, we set our own goals, we talk about what changes we’re going to make in our own life. We’re modelling that this is about life and being a human being. You don’t have to have pain to make changes."

"It’s been really good", agrees Mike. "My first goal was to give up sugar and energy drinks and it’s led me to give up sugar for at least about four weeks. Just off the back of being sort of accountable because you’ve said it in front of people.

"After half a week I gave up the energy drinks, and then just any obvious sugar". Mike pauses. "Like today, there wasn’t any obvious sugar sprinkled on that bit of banana cake…"

"One of today’s participants made us a cake and it was lovely," explains Bev.

"…It was extenuating circumstances," continued Mike.

"It was," agrees Bev. "I though you did quite well. You just shaved a bit off the end. I had two slices!"


To find out more about BDP's Pain Management workshop contact Mike Swanston on 07989223630.