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Course that helps people with lung condition breathe easier is changing lives in Cumbria

Pulmonary rehabilitation week 18th – 24th June

L-R: James Ullyart – Volunteer, Michelle Grant- Assistant Practitioner, Amy Renshaw – Specialist Occupational Therapist, Sarah McCall – Specialist Physiotherapist, Lori Prescott – Team lead and Physiotherapist, Louise Izon Admin Administrator and William Irving Volunteer

A course that helps people with a lung condition breathe easier is changing lives in Cumbria.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is freely available on the NHS and aims to teach people how to manage their condition in order that they can try and prevent becoming acutely unwell.

As part of pulmonary rehabilitation week the teams are keen to raise awareness so they can help more people like 54-year-old Brain Wade, from Carlisle, who completed the course last year. He has the lung condition Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and said: “COPD took me by surprise I was not expecting that at all. I’m former forces and I could hardly walk anywhere, I was so bad with it. One day I collapsed and ended up in hospital and they said I had COPD.

“I was shocked and I didn’t want to go outside in case I collapsed again, I had no confidence at all.  I started on this course and in these classes you are treated like an individual, they gave me the confidence to go back outside and try short walks which slowly got longer. They are also educational; I’d never heard of COPD and they teach you, what it is, what it means and how to manage and how to move on. They’re lovely here.”

Lori Prescott Team Lead and Physiotherapist explains: “The course is for anyone with a lung condition such as COPD, Chronic Asthma, Bronchiectasis or Pulmonary Fibrosis but you don’t need to necessarily feel unwell to attend. We want patients to stay well by helping prevent flare ups and be able to self-maintain wellbeing through these conditions that can deteriorate with time.”

“The twice weekly seven week course will allow you to physically feel better by potentially reducing breathlessness, tiredness and improve your overall mobility and walking. Expert led talks you will understand your condition better and will have learned how to better manage it- the stuff GP practices simply don’t get the time to tell you about.”

Although the classes are group led, each person has their own programme to help them reach their personal goals. Lori added: “The course is all individually tailored to the patient. At the start we work 1:1 on consultation and exercises so we can understand what individual barriers are and make adjustments to achieve your goals.

“Some patients come in and they worry about how far they should be able to walk or how fast they should be able to walk and we help them understand that there is no right or wrong answer, the honest answer is that everyone is here in some capacity to better themselves.

“We have people of all abilities – some people are relatively fit and some find it extremely difficult to walk who may even be on oxygen. Age bracket can be huge with patients in their 30’s through to the 90’s in the same class. Importantly these classes and the team as a whole is a support network and I don’t think we can underestimate how important that is.”

You can self-refer to the classes as long as you have a diagnosed lung condition or even better be referred through your GP/ Practice Nurse. Pulmonary Rehabilitation should be offered to you if eligible through annual practice nurse reviews.

Stephen Hodgson 56 from Longtown said: “I have done the course before and it make a big difference, it means that instead of only being able to go up 6 steps I can manage 12 but also how we can maintain that level. The class gives you the push you need to keep going and to reach your goals. Everyone has their individual goals and mine was to be able to walk more and move more but it’s not just physically that this helps, it’s mentally as well. Its good being with other people who are going through the same thing as you, we’re all trying to better ourselves and we all give each other little tips about what helps us.”

Len Trickett from Carlisle who is 87 said: “The course has really helped me, everything is still an effort but I can breathe much better, walk a little further and I’m not as tired.”

Erica Down, 66, also from Carlisle explained: “This course has made a big difference to me. I have asthma and I had pneumonia 6 years ago and completed the course after that. It really helped me then, now I am doing the course again but not for the same reason. I had a major operation and a slight stroke and the course is helping me in a different way. Things are a lot harder this time around, which has been a shock but I had some 1:1 time which helped a lot with my confidence, its helping me with my breathing – because of my asthma, but also my balance and my mental health because if you are with people with similar problems it really helps.”

Darry Wright is 66 and from Carlisle found the expert talks very helpful: “I really enjoyed the talks especially because I remember all the advice they give you and it really helps. It has taught me how to save energy but also if I feel I am struggling it’s taught me not to panic and has helped with anxiety – which is a problem especially when you are on your own. Now I think about what they have told me and I stay calm.”

Helena Allendale is 76 and is part of the Carlisle classes she said: “This is the second time I have done the course and it really is good. They are really friendly and with the exercises if you can’t do it they’ll say stop – it’s not a competition. The talks are really helpful too – I share the information with my daughter who lives away as there isn’t a similar thing where she lives. I feel a lot better having done the course and I am much more confident.”

Pauline Macpake from Carlisle said: “The course really helped with my breathing and how to control my breathing, it’s frightening when you have an episode so it’s really good to learn about how you control things. They’re lovely here they really are, it’s surprising how much it has helped. They work out what you need and help you get to your goals and if you try and do too much they’ll say stop!”

And once the seven week course is complete they will help you find other ways to support you. Lori said:

“After the seven week course is completed- home exercise should be a norm. You are armed with all the information about how to manage your condition from the talks and we provide information on any classes local to you that may be helpful. Lots of people take up alternatives such as Tai Chi, support with local exercise instructors and we had a patient who was keen to take up badminton again so signposted her in right direction.

“Patients feel safe and secure here knowing that they can push themselves and be guided to get the most benefit”

79 year old William Irving enjoyed the course so much he came back as a volunteer! He said: “I have been a volunteer for 5 years, when I completed the course I enjoyed it that much I just kept coming after it finished and eventually they let me volunteer! When I started the course I could hardly do anything at all, I had even been in hospital 4 or 5 times with my breathing. By the time I had finished I was a different person and I’ve got my confidence back. I would advise anyone to do this course and I would also say to anyone who smokes please stop, my issues are all because I smoked.”

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