Health Service Focus

04.12.19

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme

Source: NHE Nov/Dec

 

Vanessa Wakefield, Clinical Team Manager for Community Respiratory and Cardiac Services.


Sally Wood,Clinical Lead Physiotherapist for the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme and Outpatient Respiratory Physiotherapy Clinic.

People living with diagnoses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and bronchiectasis can face a range of complications and difficulties as a consequence of their conditions.

These include struggles with their mental wellbeing, recurrent infections, and problems maintaining mobility, confidence and muscle strength.

Our pulmonary rehabilitation programme in West Essex is tackling some of these challenges head on and helping people with lung disease overcome some long-standing barriers to better care and improved health.

The programme, which involves beginning and end-of-programme physical health checks and a mental health assessment, not only helps people feel better but improves their understanding and management of their symptoms.

We offer 12 two-hour, twice-weekly, sessions of tailored physical exercise and lifestyle support.

Although the sessions do not offer a cure, we know that developing participants’ muscles and increasing their tolerance of exercise will improve their ability to walk further and help them feel less tired and breathless doing everyday tasks.

People living with lung conditions are invited for an initial assessment as soon as they are referred by their GP, and can join groups in three different sites; a flexibility which addresses previous concerns over access and availability. 

Participants can also choose to attend sessions on a weekly basis over a longer period if that is more suited to their needs.

The programme includes a partnership with Healthy Minds – providing talking therapies in West Essex – to offer people a focused, cognitive behavioural therapy-based programme.

We are also able to help people tackle recurrent infections because our multi-disciplinary team can advise on issues such as when to take antibiotics and/or steroids, and the use of breathing techniques.

The work of our programme goes beyond supporting individuals; we are also trying to change the culture and belief systems around exercise for people with lung conditions. There are long standing beliefs among healthcare professionals and people with lung conditions that physical exercise is out of the question.

We’re challenging this view by giving presentations about the programme and its benefits to primary care networks and hospitals in the area.

We’re best able to change people’s perceptions by sharing the stories of our participants, who have experienced dramatic improvements to their lives.

For example, the woman with COPD who can now walk up a flight of stairs with her shopping without stopping; or the man with interstitial lung disease who became fit enough to undergo a successful double lung transplant.

With our pulmonary rehabilitation programme, we’re not just treating the condition – we are working to improve people’s lives.

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