Taking control with NICHS’s new Breathing Better campaign

Pictured at the launch of Breathing Better is from left: Lauren Young, Respiratory Coordinator, Antrim and Ballymena, Emma Goldring and Pauline Millar, Respiratory Services Project Coordinator, all from NICHS.
Pictured at the launch of Breathing Better is from left: Lauren Young, Respiratory Coordinator, Antrim and Ballymena, Emma Goldring and Pauline Millar, Respiratory Services Project Coordinator, all from NICHS.

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke has launched a new campaign called ‘Breathing Better’ encouraging health professionals, GP’s and pharmacists to refer patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to the charity’s Taking Control Self-Management Programme.

Nearly 40,000 people are living with (COPD) in Northern Ireland, a startling 43% increase in the last decade. For many breathing difficulties can be severely debilitating impacting daily life causing exacerbations, repeated hospital admissions, poor sleep, anxiousness, isolation and even depression.

However Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke says that while COPD can’t be cured, through careful management, people living with the disease can regain quality of life.

Fiona Greene, Director of Care Services, Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, said: “Many people live with worsening conditions before hearing about the Taking Control Self-Management Programme, yet after they complete the course, through better self-management, they report significant improvements in overall symptoms and quality of life.”

“Our Breathing Better campaign urges Health Professionals, GP’s and Pharmacists to refer patients to one of our Programmes which are run across Northern Ireland each year. Your referral might be the first step towards them developing the skills and confidence needed to better manage their condition and make a positive difference to their lives.”

Frank Johnston is just one person who has been helped by the Programme. He said: “COPD caused me to have exacerbations or crises every six weeks, often I would end up in A&E not being able to breathe which was terrifying. Taking part in the Taking Control Programme changed all that. Through careful management I can now sleep lying down, my lung function has improved and I’ve been able to take up golf again. Simply I have gone from a very dark place to having a future.”

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s Taking Control Self-Management Programme, is delivered via a weekly workshop over a six week period and is free of charge. Through the course people learn a range of self-management techniques. Many have even reported increased lung function achieved through exercise meaning they are able to better use the oxygen in the air that they breathe.

As part of the ‘Breathing Better’ campaign Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke is contacting GP’s and pharmacists to highlight the Programme, information pamphlets and posters have also been created for display.

For more information visit www.nichs.org.uk or telephone 02890-320184.