At a time when over 26 million people in England report to have at least 1 long term condition, the Isle of Wight Library Service has launched a national scheme to support them with expert endorsed books available to borrow for free.

Reading Well for long term conditions is part of the successful Reading Well Books on Prescription programme delivered through English public libraries. It provides people living with long term conditions and their carers with high-quality book based information, support and advice on a range of conditions. On average people living with long term conditions spend just 4 hours a year with a health professional and 8,756 hours self-managing. There is therefore an enormous need for accessible, quality assured health information to help people understand and manage their symptoms.

Developed with health experts and people living with long term conditions and their carers, the new Reading Well scheme encourages people to take an active role in making decisions about their health and understanding and managing a range of long term their conditions. The books are free to borrow from the six Isle of Wight Council branch libraries as well as in other participating libraries across England.

Reading Well for long term conditions has a recommended reading list of 28 books that were selected by health experts and people living with long term conditions. The list includes health information, memoir and self-management titles and covers conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease, as well as common symptoms such as fatigue, pain, wellbeing and sleep problems.

The scheme is delivered by The Reading Agency in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians and it is delivered through English public libraries. It is funded by Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust. It is supported by a range of health organisations including Public Health England, Health Education England, Self Management UK and The Richmond Group of Charities and has been co-produced with people with lived experience with the support of the Coalition of Collaborative Care.

The Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member for environment and heritage, Councillor John Hobart, said:

“The Isle of Wight Council’s Library Service is proud to support the Reading Well for long term conditions scheme. Our Island libraries are vital places of information, support and learning for the community and being partners in this scheme will greatly enhance the brilliant service our library team already carry out.

“Our libraries are not just places for losing your imagination in books, they are vibrant centres where the ethos of wellbeing and supporting the community is demonstrated on a daily basis and I would urge residents to take advantage of this excellent scheme.”

The Isle of Wight Council Library Service manager, Rob Jones, said:

“This scheme is another example of how libraries are working hard in their communities to support the Health and well-being of Islanders. This new book collection complements our existing Reading Well book lists which support residents and teenagers with low level mental health issues. These books are free to borrow in all six of the council’s libraries and have already helped island residents.”

Katie Clarke-Day, who lives with multiple long term conditions and was involved in the development of Reading Well for long term conditions, said:

“I believe that the Reading Well scheme will give people living with or caring for someone living with various long term conditions the knowledge and skills that they need to have confidence in managing their condition. Having this information easily accessible will help people to navigate the at times overwhelming world of long term conditions and the impact they have on people’s lives.”

Reading Well Books on Prescription is available in 97% of English public library authorities. Previous schemes have reached over 635,000 people with targeted mental health support for both adults and young people, as well as a book list for people with dementia and their carers.

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