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Better support for patients with respiratory conditions

The NHS in Gloucestershire is taking steps to offer better advice and support to patients with lung disease.

We have been actively seeking feedback from patients and carers on how we can do things better. We have heard from patients about their experiences of living with sleep apnoea, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Bronchiectasis to understand how services could be improved to help them to manage their condition better.

Patients have told us that they can find it hard to understand their disease, how to manage living with it and how to help themselves feel better.

To address this, more people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a condition that causes breathlessness, are being offered a structured programme of exercise and education to help them self-manage their condition. This will involve attending a group with other COPD patients and their carers where all attendees are supported together to understand their disease better.

The courses give attendees an opportunity to do exercises that will help improve their condition and show them how to use their medications to have better control of their symptoms.

Steve, a COPD patient who lives in Gloucestershire, found the course really helpful. He now feels that he understands how to manage his condition and visits his GP less often:

“The course teaches you how to take care of yourself to give you the best chance of having a good life. With my knowledge through the course, linked with telehealth, I know if I’m going downhill.  I keep a rescue pack at home, which involves steroids and antibiotics, so now I can get in front and start the medication quickly. I’m a lot more positive with my outlook and my attitude … I’m not afraid of COPD any more. I recommend the course to anyone.”

Patients with respiratory conditions, who are vulnerable to health complications associated with flu, are strongly encouraged to take up the offer of their free flu jab from their GP surgery.  This winter, patients with COPD and other health conditions are also being offered an additional review from their GP practice to ensure they have all the information they need to manage their condition throughout the colder winter period.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Consultant in Thoracic Medicine, Dr Andrew White said:

“Patients require that our services work as seamlessly as possible and that care along the clinical pathway is joined up.

Our ambition is to develop integrated specialist teams that provide specialist skills to patients from the home to the hospital and to support pathways from prevention, early diagnosis and through to emergency and palliative care.”

Singing groups specifically for people with a lung condition are also available to enhance the medical support people with respiratory conditions already receive. Singing can teach people a better understanding of breath control through their voice, which can in turn improve their self-esteem and reduce social isolation for some.

These are examples of some of the ideas supported by Gloucestershire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which sets out the county’s ambitions to support people in Gloucestershire to live healthier lives.

Providing people with better understanding of how to live well and manage their health conditions will help people with respiratory illnesses to avoid hospital admissions, and stay well at home.

To read more about the STP, leave your views and find out about how you can get involved visit the STP website at: www.gloucestershireSTP.net

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