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Improving COPD self-management in Hillingdon

Ren has been showing people with COPD how to manage their symptoms and stay active.

People with a long term condition often find themselves taking a lot of responsibility for managing their symptoms. It’s really important that people living with COPD, or caring for someone who has COPD, have a good understanding of the condition and are given the right information and tools to make self-management much easier.

A large part of my role as an advanced nurse practitioner involves working with people living with COPD. To support them, I ran a COPD self-management workshop with the British Lung Foundation to give people in Hillingdon the information they need to successfully manage their symptoms.


The single most important treatment for COPD is to stop smoking. At the workshop we discussed the reasons we smoke and why it is so difficult to stop.

People who have successfully quit shared their stories and offered encouragement to those that were still trying. We went through the different treatments available and gave out information about the local stop smoking service.

Pulmonary rehabilitation

Many people with COPD are also too afraid to exercise as they become very breathless. We know it is important that people with a lung condition remain active so we told them all about exercising with a lung condition and pulmonary rehabilitation, also known as PR.

PR usually involves a six to eight week course of group exercise classes. It also offers education on nutrition, living with COPD, financial help, social services and emotional support, as well as information on the medications used to manage COPD and treat flare ups.

It was surprising to hear how many people had not been told about the course. A lot of the people we spoke to were keen to start straight away and were going to visit their GP to sign up.

Managing flare-ups

Finally, we spoke about managing flare ups. A flare up is when your symptoms suddenly get much worse. They can be very frightening for people and in some cases you may even need to go in to hospital.

We discussed the best ways to avoid frequent flare ups, how to keep well and what to do when your symptoms all of a sudden get much worse. We received really positive feedback after the workshop. Many wanted to attend local services on offer such as the stop smoking service and PR.

They were also given information about BLF support services including Breathe Easy support groups, the helpline and the web community.

Feedback from the workshop

"It’s an eye opener, I learnt something today that nobody has told me before."

"It was wonderful, keep up the good work!"

"Absolutely wonderful – very engaging."

Improving understanding of the purpose of COPD self-management is essential for people with the condition and for their family and friends. The positive feedback we received from the patients we spoke to at the workshop was reassuring and many of them really felt they had benefited from attending.

They are now more aware of changes they can make to their lifestyle to improve their symptoms and have the confidence to make them either by themselves or with support. I think many of them enjoyed the course as much I enjoyed delivering it!

See how the BLF can work with you to improve the health and well-being of your COPD patients - contact the business development team at

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9 July 2014