Stand up for Legs!

Back in November 2016 a group of disgruntled tissue viability nurses met to plan a revolution.  We represented a wide range of charities and wound care organisations but we were all utterly frustrated by the inequity in quality of care around problems with the lower leg and foot.  We decided we had to do something.

From this small beginning, the Legs Matter campaign was born.  We decided to work together as a coalition of charities and not-for-profit organisations.  We persuaded our own organisations to commit some funds to get the project started and then we successfully applied for an Urgo Foundation award.  This enabled us to employ a marketing company to work with us to draft a strategy and design a website and materials to get our message out there.

We want to spread the word that there is so much that can be done to help with problems of the lower legs and feet such as lymphoedema, leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers.  This campaign has been designed to meet the information needs of patients and the public and our fellow generalist healthcare professionals such as GPs, practice nurses, nurses working in nursing homes and allied health professionals.

The public needs information about when to seek help and what help they should expect.  We have worked with patients to develop an eye catching campaign that is written in easy- to- understand language and which shows real patients with real leg problems.  We have avoided the usual ‘gorefest’ as we thought scary photos would turn people away rather than encourage them to engage with us to seek advice and help.   Our generalist colleagues (who have to deal with lots of health issues besides skin and wounds) need easily accessible good quality information and a trustworthy website.

In April this year we launched the Legs Matter campaign at the Tissue Viability Society conference.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  We are being invited to talk about ‘Legs Matter’ at conferences around the country and to write articles for a number of journals.

But better still, the wider tissue viability community is using the Legs Matter campaign to spread the word, accessing the website as a focus for teaching and sharing information and writing in asking for materials to use at their study days and other educational events.  As we hoped, the tissue viability community is taking the information and materials we have on offer and running with them to spread the word as widely as possible.

There is still plenty to do to get this message out to the public and healthcare professionals outside the world of tissue viability.  It would be great if community pharmacists (such as the chemist on the high street) had a Legs Matter poster on view to signpost people who come in to buy dressings for their non-healing wounds.   Community healthcare professionals such as GP surgeries and high street podiatrists could display a poster in their waiting rooms.  We need to make it okay to talk about leg and foot problems and offer effective solutions because legs really do matter.