Breathing more easily in Hardwick
Philip Smith says his local Breathe Easy support group helps him manage his COPD.
When my respiratory nurse told me about Breathe Easy I didn’t have to think twice. I believe strongly in helping the people who help me, so when she asked me to get involved with Breathe Easy Hardwick South, a new BLF support group in my area, it really was a no brainer.
Three years ago I was diagnosed with COPD. My symptoms can vary widely from time-to-time, depending on flare-ups. In good periods I can function relatively normally, but when I have a bad period even simple tasks such as walking across the room or climbing stairs become impossible.
I am married with a son and a granddaughter, who is aged 2 and a half years going on 18. When I’m not well my relationship with her is really affected – I can’t carry her in any way. Even on a good day it’s hard to play with her on the lawn or take her for a walk.
I do as much as I can and my wife fills in when I can't manage. Breathe Easy Hardwick South is a new support group adopting the BLF’s 'integrated' model. This means we work closely with local health services and health care professionals to support us manage our conditions on a day-to-day basis – not just when we’re having a flare-up.
This is a really effective way of pulling together all the services from the NHS and the local community. If the only time we treat people is when things go wrong, the local surgeries and hospitals will simply not have the capacity to cope with the demand.
I believe we should focus on prevention – and self-management is a major part of this. Breathe Easy offers both a social outlet - the opportunity to talk to people living with COPD and other similar conditions – as well as education and support from health care professionals to help manage my condition. This means I can reduce the frequency and severity of my exacerbations, which helps not just myself but also eases the burden on my nurses, doctors and local health services.
It’s only relatively early days for our group so far, but already we’re becoming embedded in the structure of the local CCG (clinical commissioning group), with representation at the highest levels. We help them to help us.
There are some great characters emerging within the group and tight friendship groups are forming. Sometimes it helps just to talk to somebody who understands what you’re going through, and some members use the group as a first port of call when feeling ill.
My hope is, with the help of the people around me, I’ll be able to play with lovely granddaughter without any problems.