A set of video resources highlighting the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR)is being circulatedthis month to almost 2,200 GPs and clinicians across the North East and North Cumbria.
PR is a programme of exercise and education for people with long-term lung conditions helping them to breathe and function at a noticeably improved level.
The Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), in collaboration with the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and The Newcastle Healthy Lungs Programme, has created the video “Changing Lives – Breathing Better” and accompanying ‘patient story’ case study video clips.
The videos, designed to assist GPs and clinicians in referring patients into PR, feature five people from across the North East with lung conditions sharing their experiencesand the benefits of completing such a programme.
Around 1 in 5 people in the UK will develop some form of lung disease during their lifetime which translates to over 700,000 hospital admissions each year.
Current referral rates to PR are very low nationally, a situation that is mirrored in the North East and North Cumbria region. The aim of the video resources is for everyone involved with lung disease, from patients to healthcare professionals, to have a better understanding of the life changing benefits PR offers. This will undoubtedly lead to increased referrals to the services available.
It is hoped that the films will support primary care workers in engaging with patients to communicate the benefits of local PR services and improve the health and well-being of patients living with a respiratory condition.
One of the stars of the film is Wendy Dirks, 63, from Chapel House in Newcastle. Shehighlights the positive impact PR classes have had on her life thanks to her GP’s referral.
A couple of years ago I was completely flattened for a long time due to asthma and pulmonary embolism in both of my lungs. I couldn’t walk and talk to somebody standing next to me at the same time – I could walk and breathe or talk and breathe but I couldn’t do all that together.
When I began pulmonary rehab it was something that I had not heard of before, yet my experience was so positive. The exercises are designed to strengthen the intercostal muscles, the muscles between your ribs and the quadriceps muscles, the muscles in the legs.
Speaking of the support she received from staff at pulmonary rehabilitation, Wendy said:
The trainers are fantastic, they’re not just really friendly but they’re so non-judgemental. You don’t feel like you have to be embarrassed about your lack of fitness – everybody’s in the same boat and we’re given so much kindness and encouragement. It’s not boot camp by any means, it’s discovering that you can do more than you thought.
I have a 13-year-old granddaughter and I was so frightened that I was going to lose that ability to just be out on the beach with my family and now I know that’s not going to happen I’m going to be able to enjoy being on the beach for years to come.
Tom Erskine, 72, from Chapel Park, Newcastle,suffers with COPD and learned about PR from a nurse at his Breathe Easy group.
Tom, who also features in the film, said:
The trainers at the pulmonary rehabilitation classes are absolutely brilliant. They don’t push you, you just do what you want to do. I certainly felt improved. I’m motivated now, I want to go and do things.
The PR video resource was officially launched on October 3rd at the BLF Breathe Easy Newcastle East monthly meeting, run in partnership with the BLF and NewcastleGateshead CCG. The video was showcased to attendees including some of the patients with lung conditions who were featured in the film.
Bev Wears, Service Development Manager at the BLF, said:
There is a clear need to keep people with lung disease well in the community for longer to improve their quality of life.
It’s important that all eligible patients are offered pulmonary rehabilitation as it helps people to feel less breathless when doing day-to-day activities. These videos highlight how much better people felt after completing a PR programme.
A recent audit by The National COPD Audit Programme found that:
- 90% of people who attend pulmonary rehabilitation find it easier to walk around afterwards.
- Almost two thirds (63%) of patients who attend found the improvement was better than they’d hoped for when they started.
- Around three quarters (74%) saw a general improvement in their respiratory health.
Dr Seamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the AHSN NENC, said:
The rate of referral to pulmonary rehabilitation is poor and GPs and clinicians working in primary care play a pivotal role in the referral of patients into the service.
By working closely with the BLF we’ve been able to develop a series of videos that primary care professionals can access to raise awareness and encourage the uptake of pulmonary rehabilitation across the North East and North Cumbria.