The Ticker Club: creating a safe place for people with heart conditions
The organisation, based at Wythenshawe Hospital near Manchester, means that people having heart procedures feel supported by someone who's been through it themselves.
One of the worst things about having a heart condition can be feeling alone, or that no one else understands what you’re going through. This is what makes The Ticker Club such an important organisation.
Based at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, home to one of the UK’s leading cardiac centres, the Ticker Club is an association set up by ex-patients who have had heart surgery or other cardiac or vascular procedure at the hospital. The idea is that people going through the shock of being diagnosed with a heart condition or recovering from heart surgery can feel that they’re not alone: they can talk to someone who was once in the same position.
Patients and families can talk to someone who’s actually had the same procedure done, which is very, very important.
The Ticker Club
“Patient and families can talk to someone who was once in the same position. This is very important in helping to allay some of the fear and uncertainty,” says John Phillips, Chairman of the Ticker Club.
“Talking to the medics," John adds, “tends to involve a little too much medical jargon but, talking to us, patients can feel there’s less of a barrier.”
The Ticker Club, like many other heart support groups, is affiliated to the British Heart Foundation, and the advice and support it offers to patients is free. It has been running since 1987 and has 460 members.
Some of these members act as "patient support visitors", who go in to talk to patients waiting for appointments in the clinics, visit patients in the cardiac wards (both pre- and post-op) and in the Critical Care Unit. They are also part of the team at a patient information day which is on offer to all patients and family members who are waiting for planned surgery.
John adds: “Generally only someone who has experienced a heart condition can relate to patients who have just had a diagnosis, and understand their concerns. And we’re not just there for the patients, we’re there for the family too, who may also need support at such a difficult time.
We want them to know we’ll be with them every step of the way
The Ticker Club
“We can pick up messages on the office answer phone. Or often if I’m talking to someone, I’ll give them my mobile number. I think that’s what sets us apart – we want to become the point of contact for anyone who has heart issues. We want them to know we’ll be with them every step of the way.”
Going through heart surgery can cause considerable mental strain, which can lead to anxiety. John is convinced the Ticker Club can ease this strain and help towards a speedier recovery.
“We’re there to try to take some of that fear away,” he explains. “I normally present myself as a guy who had heart surgery 15 years ago, and straight away patients comment: ‘So, you had this done 15 years ago and lived to tell the tale. And you look so well!’ It eases their fears, and that in itself is quite an uplifting thing for us to hear in The Ticker Club.
The group also has an annual seminar, hosts regular social events for its members and sends out four newsletters per year, which contain information on how members are getting on with life post-surgery.
John adds: “We are proud of our work, and very proud of the The Queens Award for Voluntary Services awarded to us in 2016.”