A new digital resilience course developed by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to help prevent people with multiple sclerosis (MS) from losing their jobs, has seen positive results. As a result it is now being rolled out to 10 sites to explore how it could be adopted by the NHS.

The trust designed the programme to improve MS patients’ belief in their ability to achieve goals, known as self efficacy. It is based on acceptance and commitment therapy.

The course was initially piloted with MS patients in Leeds, London and Cardiff. Leeds Teaching Hospitals found that using the Ready for MS programme may lead to improvements to work instability for people with MS. It also helped with related psychological factors, such as anxiety and self-efficacy.

Jayne Armstrong, a 51-year-old mother of two with MS used what she learnt from the digital resilience course pilot to prepare her for a 100km Sahara trek.

She said: “Ten years ago, having suffered a relapse in my condition brought about, no doubt, by work-related stress, I couldn’t struggle 50 yards down the road. Now, thanks in large part to the programme and the confidence and understanding it gave me, I walk up to 10 miles a day.

“The programme has given me such a boost. I am a much more confident person, both inside and outside work. I know that I have the physical and mental strength to cope with all that life throws at me – and to undertake my personal charity challenge.”

Professor Helen Ford, consultant neurologist, oversaw the development of the Ready for MS programme for Leeds Teaching Hospitals. She said: “People with MS lose their jobs much earlier than you would expect and not necessarily as a result of disability.

“They can feel uncertain about their future, as can their employers. We found that self-efficacy is a really important factor in retaining employment.”

Following the initial pilot, the Ready for MS digital resilience programme is now being rolled out across 10 sites as part of a wider study to look at how it could be adopted by the NHS. The Interact-MS study is led by Charli Wicks, research fellow, who also led the pilot trial, and is funded by the MS Society.

The programme is not the only work being done to advance treatment and support for MS patients at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Last month we detailed how clinicians and researchers at the trust have developed a new motion detection tool that can help to identify potentially life-changing treatments for a range of conditions including MS.