GP Lisa Thomas asked patients in her Church Village practice to join her to discuss how a better lifestyle could improve their health.

As a result, all those who took part said their general well-being had improved while some repeat medication was stopped, like anti-depressants and pain relief.

Dr Thomas set up a Facebook Group among those who were interested in meeting up for information on healthy eating and exercise.

A chef was brought in for nutritional advice, while a personal trainer was also recruited, in collaboration with the Hapi Project which funded the initiative.

Now, 12 weeks on, the group is thriving and Dr Thomas is working on extending the ‘Total Health Workshops’ programme.

Dr Lisa Thomas
Dr Lisa Thomas who set up the lifestyle group

She said: “I decided to ask our patients via our practice Facebook page if anyone was interested in joining me for a 12 week programme where we would meet every week and discuss lifestyle measures and improving general health and reducing chronic diseases.”

The sessions included talks about Mindfulness, medication, a healthy diet and exercise and how these could improve their symptoms.

Recipes are shared via the Facebook Group and members share their experiences of exercise routines.

“Sometimes we go for a jog together or have a low intensity session with a personal trainer. A chef demonstrates healthier meals and teaches them how to cook it,” Dr Thomas said.

“I did it in my own time on my day off because that is how much I believe it’s the right thing to do.

“The patients really enjoyed it and the feedback was really good. The patients felt it made a huge improvement to their general health. As a result some repeat medication was stopped, like anti-depressants and pain relief.

“One patient said she felt so good and so many people were asking her what she had been doing, her husband started eating healthier with her and step daughter also joined in.

“My hope is that this could become the norm in more households.”

All 12 people, aged from 11 to 77, who took part said that they felt better as a result, no one said it made them feel worse.

“They are all much more active and all eating healthier, definitely,” Dr Thomas said.

Kate Maisey who attended the sessions said: “I have really enjoyed the course so far and love that it has everything for a happy healthy life. Exercising, socialising and learning about a healthy diet. This will help you to feel positive about you and how great life can be.”

The Hapi Project works to help people in the Taf Ely area to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to make choices to improve their health and wellbeing.

Lisa Voyle senior project officer for the Hapi Project said that Dr Thomas’ vision of social prescribing and managing health conditions by a healthier lifestyle was truly inspirational.

“This was a fantastic project to be part of and we can’t thank everyone involved enough. It was great to see the friendships being formed and seeing first-hand the difference this project has made to individuals and their families.

“We are looking forward in continuing our work with participants from the pilot project and excited to be assisting the next cohort to lead a healthier lifestyle,” Lisa Voyle said.

Richard Shaw from Cooking Together provided the cookery sessions and nutritional information.

Jogging sessions were also organised for those who wanted to run and as part of the cool down Zumba South Wales delivered low intensity training which was suitable for everyone.

The Hapi Project is a Big Lottery funded initiative hosted by Newydd Housing Association.