Thistle Foundation programme gets green light from the Scottish Government

Edinburgh based Thistle Foundation programme gets green light from the Scottish Government to provide rehabilitation support to people across Scotland living with long-term health conditions.

Thistle Foundation programme gets green light from the Scottish Government

Article Source: Thistle Foundation
First Published: 29 June 2022 15:46
Updated: 30 June 2022 9:22

Thistle Foundation programme gets green light from the Scottish Government to provide rehabilitation support to people across Scotland living with long-term health conditions.

• Innovative programme aims to make a life-changing difference for people living with long-term health conditions including people impacted by COVID-19;
• Two million people in Scotland are living with at least one long-term health condition including long-COVID;
• Programme will see the Thistle Foundation providing support and learning to teams of health and social care professionals across Scotland;
• Initial £250,000 funding from the Scottish Government awarded to Thistle Foundation.

A new national development programme aimed at reshaping rehabilitation services for people living with long-term health conditions including people impacted by COVID-19, has been given the green light by the Scottish Government today, Thursday 30 June.

This Scotland-wide programme is developed by the Scottish Government and Thistle Foundation, a leading Scottish health and wellbeing charity that supports people with long-term health conditions.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland estimates that around two million people in Scotland are living with at least one long-term health condition. This programme will support the, Once for Scotland Rehabilitation Approach which aims to: make rehabilitation more accessible to everyone who needs it, and enable the redesign of a wide range of community-based services.

Working in collaboration with organisations across NHS Scotland, Health and Social Care Partnerships and the third sector, Thistle Foundation will offer early adopters (services and teams) support to reshape rehabilitation services. This will include early intervention, to ensure that more people get the rehabilitation and self-management support they need, sooner and closer to home.

Mark Hoolahan, CEO of Thistle Foundation said, “It’s fantastic to see this work receive funding from the Scottish Government. It allows us to extend some of the really successful support we have been offering health and social care professionals in and around Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife, to a broader range of teams and services across Scotland.

“At Thistle, people are at the heart of what we do. This programme is about more than supporting people with their physical health. It is about supporting people to be connected within their communities, to feel confident and resilient – it’s about thriving rather than just surviving. By situating rehabilitation within the person’s community, with support from friends, family and the community around them, people will feel more empowered to lead and manage their situation and remain as independent as possible.”


Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said, “We are pleased to be able to support this important work by the Thistle Foundation which fits with our Once for Scotland Rehabilitation Approach.

“Our approach focuses on enabling individuals to access person-centred rehabilitation based on their individual needs. In doing so we hope to make rehabilitation more accessible for all.”


In recent years, Thistle Foundation has been working with Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, in all 12 GP practices across the area. The collaboration aims to support culture change, shifting the emphasis of health and social care services towards a focus on prevention, anticipatory care, recovery and support for self-management.

Dr Hilary Ansell from Newbattle Medical Practice, said, “My experience with Thistle over the last few years has allowed me to refer with confidence even my most vulnerable patients who have previously had difficulty engaging with NHS services. Thistle offer patient centred support, advice and lifestyle changes and their flexibility encourages patients to participate and feel valued. With Thistle, they will continue contact until the individual feels ready to engage - this stops the most disadvantaged from slipping through the net.

“Their practitioners offer holistic support and have broad ranging knowledge of local support agencies and services. They are equally comfortable in working with people with mental and physical long term conditions. The aim is always to encourage each individual to grow in confidence to manage their own condition and be the best version of themselves.”


This new, Scottish Government funded development programme will launch across Scotland by late summer, with Thistle Foundation working with NHS Boards, Health and Social Care Partnerships and Third Sector organisations to agree and plan their requirements.

Image: Mark Hoolahan, CEO of Thistle Foundation

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