People with lung disease in West Essex encouraged to take part in free activity and advice sessions

November 4, 2019

People with lung disease in West Essex are being encouraged to “dramatically improve their lives” by taking part in free activity and advice sessions run by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

The Trust is using a new national health campaign aimed at people with long-term health conditions to urge people with diagnoses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and bronchiectasis to ask their GPs to refer them to its local pulmonary rehabilitation programme.

Newly improved and now open to more people, the programme offers each person 12 two-hour sessions of tailored physical exercise and information that will help them feel better. It also helps people understand and manage their condition(s) and symptoms – including feeling short of breath – along with providing valuable lifestyle support.

The twice-weekly sessions, held at Saffron Walden Community Hospital, St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping and Latton Bush near Harlow, also include beginning and end-of-programme physical health checks and a mental health assessment.

Sally Wood, the programme’s clinical lead physiotherapist, said: “If we can build up each person’s exercise tolerance and develop their muscles, we know that this will help with their ability to walk further and help them feel less tired and breathless when carrying out day-to-day activities.

“Although the sessions cannot cure a patient, they enable them to better manage their condition themselves instead of relying solely on external care.”

One woman with COPD, she said, had dropped two dress sizes and lost almost two stone, while another with the same diagnosis could now walk up a flight of stairs without stopping while carrying her shopping.

The programme had also helped build the strength of a man with interstitial lung disease until he was fit enough to undergo what turned out to be a successful double lung transplant.

Sally said each patient was given exercises to do at home so they could build on the improvements made during class.

The Trust’s call coincides with We Are Undefeatable, a national campaign led by 15 leading health and social care charities and Sport England, which aims to change the misconception that people with long-term health conditions cannot be active.

The campaign seeks to inspire and empower those who are least active to build physical activity into their lives in small chunks and in a way their condition allows.