Financial Leadership Award


We are delighted to announce that our Deputy Director, Sonia Cottom won the Sayer Vincent Financial Leadership Award for “Improving the Way You Work” category.


Deputy Director – Sonia Cottom

This is an absolute honour for the Association to celebrate outstanding financial leadership and demonstrating the significant impact that has been made for the Association, its beneficiaries and those whom they work with, particularly within the NHS.

The unique referral, monitoring and reporting processes that have been established ensures that our service delivery meets the needs of the various Health Boards whom we work with. We look where we can provide added value to assist Boards achieve their waiting time initiatives as
well as looking for opportunities for service improvement. Not only do all these processes save the NHS money and create added value, they also save valuable staff administration resource which can be used in other areas.


BBC News reports Alex Neil promising Chronic Pain patients better care

Patients with chronic pain in Scotland will receive improved specialist care, Health Secretary Alex Neil has pledged.

Click the video below to view the BBC news video clip.


Self-Management check list

Self -Management check-list


Self Management is something that many people get confused about.

With this in mind, I have written a very simple checklist of the sorts of things that you need to understand and do.


Some things are practical like relaxation and pacing, but other things have a lot more to do with thoughts and feelings. In fact, thoughts and feelings have a lot of relevance to practical activities. This is because the way we think has a lot to do with the way we behave and what we allow ourselves top do or not do.


As an exercise it would be good to tick off the things that you already do and maybe circle a few new things that you would like to achieve.


You may also find that this list helps your family and friends to understand what it is that you’re actually doing and trying to do at Pain Association meetings. It might also help them to help you. You might also like to add to the list.


It’s also important to bear in mind that many of the things on this list are easy to say but difficult to do, but this doesn’t mean that you cant do them, its just that they take effort and might require a change of thinking. The key thing is to engage in the process and start doing something now.




  • The ability to pace your activities so that you stay within your capabilities and avoid cycling between boom-bust


  • An acknowledgement that things have changed and that you need to adapt


  • A relaxation technique that works and that you practise daily


  • A proper understanding of your condition


  • A way of explaining your condition simply


  • An understanding of what your pain means


  • Understanding of how stress impacts on your health


  • Understanding of how activities affect you so that you can plan


  • A way of spotting that you’re doing too much (a thought or a sensation)


  • The ability to stop if you know you need to


  • A flare up plan


  • Things that you know will help pain


  • A positive way of dealing with others


  • A ‘normal’ way of talking about your health without putting others off and upsetting you eg I’m ok thanks, but my back is giving me problems right now


  • The attitudes:
  • What choice do I have?
  • Does the cost justify the benefit?
  • What can I actually do now to improve things, even a little?


  • A focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t


  • A person to talk honestly to


  • A structure for days with work rest and play


  • Always something to look forward to


  • A sign of stress building up that you can spot (like getting claustrophobic or snappy)


  • Baselines (time/distance) for key activities like:
  • Walking
  • Housework
  • Sitting
  • Standing


  • Activity to fully engage thinking


  • Endorphin producing activities


  • Activities that you can lose yourself in


  • Music to change mood in the right direction


  • Protected time for switching off


  • Plan for when you don’t sleep


  • A way of keeping fit (safely)


  • Stretches and exercises based on professional advice


  • Write things down when you’re worried


  • Write things down when you go to the doctor


  • A way of gently improving fitness or mobility (see baselines)


  • A deal with yourself about your condition eg if I don’t pace I’ll get worse


  • Someone or some place where people will believe you


  • A way of saying no thanks


  • A way of saying yes please


  • The ability to prioritise


  • Awareness of negative thoughts that affect your mood or behaviour


  • A way of dealing with negative thinking so that it affects you less


  • Not putting your needs last


  • Being kind to yourself

UK Care Integration Awards Finalist

UK Care Integration Awards Finalist


We are delighted to report our achievement of reaching the finals of the UK Care Integration Awards, of which the presentations are to be made in May 2013 and winners announced in July 2013.  These awards recognise and reward excellence in collaborative healthcare working.  They celebrate excellence in an area which arguably presents the greatest challenge to modern healthcare recognising those organisations and individuals who are at the forefront of offering integrated care to ensure that local health and wellbeing needs are better understood and addressed.


As part of the Government’s plan to improve Chronic Pain Services across Scotland a national website is being expanded and developed.’s-page.aspx


The aim to provide a One Stop Shop for anyone who wishes to find out more about Chronic Pain resources. 

We want to know what you would like to see included in the Self Management section of the site. Links will be included to already established groups. What did you find helpful / or would have found helpful when taking your first steps to finding out more about Chronic Pain?


All comments appreciated via Pain Association Scotland or to    Thank you.

News from Trusts

We have recently completed an intensive course in Oban.  This was possible through the kind donation from Crerar Hotels Trust along with being able to use the Oban Bay Hotel and Spa to host the course.  This is the first time we ran an intensive course using the opportunity for people to self-refer.

Completion of Intensive Self-Management Course held at the Oban Hotel and Spa

Completion of Intensive Self-Management Course held at the Oban Hotel and Spa


Pictures of “Falkirk Intensive Self-Management course participants” after completion of course.

Falkirk Intensive Self-Management course participants complete course


“Go and Take a Peek”
By Brian McAlorum

The truth is always there, you know
Though sometimes hard to seek
Often hidden amidst the cares in time
Should we go a take a peek?

Under dreadul pain and suffering
The truth waits to behold
Life’s mysterious yet authentic story

Just waiting to unfold

 So lift the lid, I say to you

Because in this life, you will not die

But awake and come to life my friends

Not forever dwell in pain and endless cry

It’s time I pardoned the world this day

And forgave her the buden of my shriek

So, I’ll lift the lid and step right in


Go and Take a Peek

Attendance Report

Report on Attendance at Pain Management Programme –Spring 2011

The Pain Management Programme has seen a regular group of 12 participants meeting for an education programme on understanding and managing chronic pain. The group members have had a variety of conditions but with a common problem of managing their pain.

The sessions, led by Scottish Pain Association tutor Phil Sizer have covered topics such as understanding what chronic pain is, pacing, relaxation, flare up management, sleep hygiene, stress management and dealing with negative thoughts and feelings.

All the sessions have been very informative and clearly led and explained by Phil. While led in quite a structured way from the front, the sessions have been informal and non threatening allowing participants to be involved in discussions, ask questions and share experiences.

While acknowledging the problems, the discussions have been steered away from focusing on the negatives, encouraging solution finding. Phil’s skill as a group facilitator has enabled the group members to open up to each other and to enjoy each others company.

They have commented how good it has been to find other people who understand their problems and have found support and encouragement from this.

It has been interesting and encouraging to see and hear the change in the participants understanding of the issues covered and particularly the changes they have made to their day to day lives. This has also been shown in the change in validated outcome measures which were used at the start and end first training block.

I have enjoyed attending these sessions and have particularly benefited from seeing Phil’s approach to dealing with this type of client group. The selection of people for this group has on the whole been appropriate and the results so far have been very positive.

Hopefully the maintenance sessions will continue to provide the support and encouragement to enable these people to continue to make positive changes, to cope more effectively with their problems and improve their quality of life.

“THERE’S nothing more surgically that we can do to help.”

It’s the phrase that anyone dreads to hear when you’re living in constant pain, for me in my back and leg.

And I’d admit the rest of the conversation with the surgeon was a bit of a blur after I asked the question “does this mean I’ll be like this the rest of my life?”

You see, it seemed like the end of a very, very long road.

In almost 12 years of varying degrees but ever worsening suffering, I’d tried almost everything I could think of and probably spent thousands in trying to find a solution. Everything from simple physio, acupuncture, chiropractor, right through to two operations on my back. Still the pain remained.

It seemed that although being in my mid-30s life as I wanted and hoped it to be just wasn’t going to happen.

And so when the surgeon said he’ll refer me to the pain clinic, it wasn’t really something that had me leaping out of my seat for joy.

Maybe it’s as a result of the modern society we live in whereby everything as to be done yesterday, something aches, you take a pill and it goes, or if it persists, a more medical approach is required. Whichever, it’s sorted and the individual can carry on as though nothing had happened in the first place. Nobody realises there’s an alternative in which we can help ourselves.

To sceptics to can be classed as brain training or self therapy and I’ll admit I was one of those sceptics.

But this ain’t some wacko performing the river of life over you.

You see this is more about breaking down barriers, opening doors and realising there’s a way forward in which life can be what you want it to be.

Maybe I was lucky but I was invited to attend a series of workshops by the Pain Association Scotland – a charity I’d never heard of let alone being aware of the work it does.

You see, in that moment a surgeon tells you there’s nothing more that can be done, you sub-consciously feel like you’re in a cell, a small confined space all by yourself,  in which all the worlds’ stresses are being thrown at you. Suddenly you’re in a down-ward spiral, work, money, other people, all the negative thoughts you can think of.

And the only reason I went was because of the workshop theme of linking stress and pain.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Suddenly from feeling I was alone, highly sensitive to other people around me, low self-confidence, I was thrust into a totally different environment.

I was no longer alone – I was part of a group of people who although had varying medical conditions and of different ages and backgrounds, all were in the same position.

I suspect many were like me at the beginning, sceptical about what will happen but are there as they are willing to try anything.

Straight away we are put at ease – we aren’t some form of mutant sent to the planet as maybe David Icke would like us to believe.

We don’t stick out like a sore thumb, we can blend in without feeling nervous or stressed about our surroundings, worried if someone speaks to us.

The beauty of this is that it is a workshop. It isn’t a class or a lecture, there’s an open floor where anyone can chip in and the session goes with the flow and everyone can be open and honest with each other. There’s no wrong or right, it’s just what works.

There is a programme of sorts but each session is dictated by those there and what is said. Yet despite the open-forum style there are under-lying themes that may only be touched upon but still make deep inroads into the mind.

Phil Sizer, lead trainer with the Pain Association Scotland, probably conducts hundreds of these every year and I’m also willing to bet every single one is different.

Yet the end results are more than likely the same.

He admits that it isn’t a cure, we will still need to take medication, have good days and bad days, just not the same number of very bad days, known as flare ups, the ones that leave me flat out and bent over like a human question mark.

Without realising, the life as we know it – pain, stresses, anxiety, nervousness, solitude, negative thoughts, habits – are stripped away so we’re left with just the bare bones.

And slowly but surely bits are added on, things I’d never heard of or thought about are suggested.

Ideas are thrown about or casually added, almost like throwing seeds that then germinate into bigger things.

And without realising tools like pacing, relaxation techniques, baselines and hints on dealing with others provide the building blocks for us to if not rebuild but remould our lives in a way that will allow us to carry out chores and activities in way that causes us less pain.

Simple theories are put to us in a way that ignites a spark deep inside and suddenly you find yourself agreeing and trying out some of these.

But it ain’t rocket science. In many ways it’s just logical thinking.

It sounds so simple. When somebody is stressed or worried or even nervous, the body tenses up. That causes pressure. And if there is a weak link, it causes pain.

The solution? Stop stressing.

“Not possible,” I hear you cry. But it is.

Basic and sensible ideas such as only stress and worry about the things you can change seem to lift a massive weight from the shoulders.

For example, a cancelled hospital appointment. Can I affect it and get it re-instated? No. So what’s the point in worrying?

I’m off sick and my company sick pay has run out. Can I change it? Nope. So why worry?

Straight away the important things become clear and it’s easier to deal with these things.

It sounds so simple, yet it can take so long to get used to it. But when you do it makes such a difference.

One of the big topics that dominates the workshop is pacing.

It’s become almost a taboo subject yet by doing it can make so much of a difference.

Even small, subtle change can make a huge difference, but it does require a radical change of mindset.

With many acute pains or illnesses you often hear people say they will fight it or battle it.

But with chronic pain you can’t. That doesn’t mean you retire to bed for the rest of your life.

But those who do battle and fight their pain may not fully accept the predicament they are in.

There is no point going to battle with the pain as eventually it will win the war, leaving you worn out with nothing left to give, no energy, no jobs or tasks getting done, resulting in more stress and more pain. It’s a vicious circle.

In an early episode of South Park, residents were advised to Duck and Cover should a nearby volcano erupt. And accepting pain is exactly like that. Listening to your body and planning ahead in accordance with what your body tells you is key.

I’ll admit that pacing was a totally alien concept but reflecting on my life pre-workshop, productivity was next to nil. But now, although it seems like I’m doing a lot less, I have more to show for my efforts.

By planning simple tasks, achievable goals on a daily basis and sticking pretty rigidly to that, helps cut back on pain while still having something worthwhile at the end of it.

With my mind a lot clearer, things that are important come into focus and the number of flair ups are reduced.

It has also given me a lot of answers to things that have happened and as a result has made me more focussed on my future.

The workshops are drawing to a close now and from thinking at the start that I was a bit sceptical and was going along out of curiosity, I’m now thinking that it’s a real shame, not just from the aspect of learning so many key skills but also the environment of being with people that fully understand where I come from.

The skills I have learned in terms of what I can do for myself will stick with me but so will techniques in dealing with others. There are so many things that I have picked up in the last six weeks. Although they may seem subtle and small, combined they have all helped.

Yes, there are still good days and bad days but there are nowhere near the same number of flare ups. Although I’m still at very early days in terms of pacing and relaxation techniques, it has made so much of a difference and I’m sure will continue to do so.

But there is still one huge regret.

That is that this workshop was not made available sooner. I’m sure the rest of the people of my workshop will all feel the same, that after years of struggling along, we have all seen the light – there is a life out there, despite the pain.

I have spent so long soldiering on – even pre-op. And there was no need.

A referral to the pain clinic and onto the Pain Association Scotland seems to be treated as a last resort by medical professionals. That is wrong.

It should not be a question of one of the other, they should almost be hand in hand and working together.

If I had had the tools available to me – pacing, relaxation etc – then I would not have had to endure anywhere near as much pain as I have.

While the admission at the start that the workshop will not replace any medication is true, I certainly believe I would have had a more comfortable life, a more fulfilling life and certainly wouldn’t have felt the need to splash out the money I have on needless treatments.

Even healthy individuals could learn so much – the people I have let read the information from the workshops have got it straight away and can associate with it.

But maybe it comes back to the modern day lifestyle. It isn’t a pill that has an instant effect, it takes a lot of time, dedication and discipline. But the end results can out-weigh any surgeon’s scalpel.