Improving people’s quality of life and reducing hospital admission rates are just two of the anticipated benefits of a new service introduced by NHS Western Isles.
The Board recently launched a new Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Rehabilitation Service to proactively target COPD, which is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality within Scotland and currently accounts for more than 10 per cent of all acute hospital admissions and 30,000 deaths annually in Scotland and the UK.
In the Western Isles there are over 400 people with COPD and 200 people who could potentially benefit from COPD Rehabilitation.
The first phase of the new service development is the establishment of a COPD Rehabilitation ‘Hub’ at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, with telehealth links to NHS Tayside’s Rehabilitation Team for additional support. The intention is that ‘satellite’ services will be introduced in the Uists andBarra at a later date.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is essentially class based programmes which enable those with respiratory conditions to learn to manage their own health/ill health, day to day in their home environment, where possible.
Classes are comprehensive multidisciplinary programmes of exercise and education. The demographic profile in the Western Isles, coupled with the rising number of Long Term Conditions (one of which is COPD), indicates that the demand for Pulmonary Rehabilitation will continue to increase.
Respiratory Liaison Nurse Pauline Morrison stated: “All the evidence strongly suggests that pulmonary rehabilitation is very beneficial for appropriately referred patients. The benefits include clinical benefits, reduced admission to hospital rates and improved quality of life. It also empowers patients to manage their own conditions.”
There are currently six participants on the programme, and clients can be referred through the Respiratory Consultant, their GP or through the Respiratory Liaison Nurse.
Allison Martin, who was recently appointed as Rehabilitation Physiotherapist to support the new service, explained: “The programme takes place over eight weeks, and consists of two one-hour sessions a week, together with an hour of education/informal group chats over a cup of tea.
“The exercise programme is tailored to each client’s individual needs to improve symptoms and quality of life and help individuals to self manage their disease as effectively as possible.”
Exercise classes start with stretches and a ‘warm up’, followed by light exercises in a ‘circuit’ format to help develop functional exercise capacity, improve health status, and reduce breathlessness. The educational element is provided by a variety of professionals who are specialists in their area. Feedback to date has been very positive.
Cameron MacLeay, who recently started the programme, commented: “So far it’s been very good. It’s a very balanced programme and they have it very well worked out. I’m still at a very early stage in the programme but I think it’s going to be worthwhile.”
Phil Tilley, Deputy Head of Planning and Development and Chairman of the Respiratory Managed Clinical Network said: “A lot of hard work has been undertaken over the past year to ensure our readiness to deliver this new service.
“The successful launch is due to partnership working with other Boards in Scotland and with the involvement of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth. Much of the credit is due to our own staff who have undertaken new training over weeks and months, in some cases and to the determination of our Respiratory Liaison Nurse and Rehabilitation Physiotherapist.”