I didn't want my PR to end - so I set up a new group!
Kim was disappointed when her pulmonary rehab ended. She decided to take action, and linked up with local physiotherapy students to develop a new programme for people who want to carry on.
I live with a lung condition called bronchiectasis. It affects all areas of my life, from sleeping, to my social life, to my self-esteem. I was given a course of pulmonary rehab, which ended up being really helpful for me.
But then, the course ended. I was disappointed that there was nothing else to follow on from it.
I decided to do something about it, which is how I ended up setting up a local Breathe Easy group here in Eastbourne! My background’s in project management, and I already had a lot of the skills needed to set something up - plus I love a challenge! Now I chair the group and organise the activities.
Making pulmonary rehab more accessible
I wanted to find a way to make pulmonary rehab more accessible to the people in my Breathe Easy group, but I knew we couldn’t afford a qualified physio. So I started to research other ways we could make it work.
Then I thought about physio students who might need work experience.
I approached the University of Brighton with my idea, and met Hazel, the senior lecturer in physiotherapy. When I told her my idea, she was all for it!
We decided we were going to work together to make my idea a reality. She said she thought it was amazing how few people with lung conditions are given the opportunity to continue on with pulmonary rehab.
Not your usual pulmonary rehab
It was a lot of hard work liaising back and forth between the university, but we finally came up with something. The ongoing pulmonary rehabilitation programme, designed to give people with lung conditions a safe place to continue exercising, with support from physiotherapy staff and students from the University of Brighton.
What Hazel and I set up is not your usual pulmonary rehab. If you want to attend, you have to already have completed a course pulmonary rehab. It's a continuing programme, which is really nice. It gives people the opportunity to attend on a more long-term basis.
It's good for the students too
It's great for people with lung conditions who are attending, but the students also benefit as it's valuable work experience.
It also means they get to see first hand what it’s like to work with someone with a chronic illness. For a lot of them, it might be their first time working with an illness that doesn’t just go away.
Hazel also pointed out that a lot of physiotherapy students think the profession is all about sports - but it’s not! She’s really happy that her students can give something so important back to the local population.
We can't wait to see what happens next
To date, we've run one trial class and it went so well - everyone was so overwhelmingly positive, from the people attending to the students. In the future, Hazel and I like to do more, and run the course again for another set of students, with an aim to running it twice a year.
I hope other Breathe Easy groups follow our lead. It’s a lot of work getting it set up, but once it’s up and running it’s amazing!