Pulmonary Rehabilitation Class Helps People With Lung Disease Thrive In Their Local Community

23rd June 2023

“I have received a lot of support and my condition has improved by attending this programme, it has made such a difference to me. The staff are great, very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.”

Heartfelt words from a grateful patient who attends a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme organised by the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation programmes have been offered to patients with an underlying lung condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Bronchiectasis or Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) since 2002 and are aimed at improving exercise tolerance, knowledge around lung disease and encourage the ability of patients to self-manage their condition symptoms alongside the support of their local Respiratory team, GP and Practice Nurse.

The classes are facilitated by Respiratory Physiotherapists, Nurses and Respiratory Assistants who monitor the patient’s oxygen levels and heart rates at the beginning and end of each session, they are also able to assist patients if there are any concerns during the class. The exercises performed are specifically designed for people with lung disease who experience symptoms of breathlessness. The programme runs for a period of 6 weeks and patients attend twice weekly for a gradually progressive exercise programme, one session each week also incorporates a short educational awareness session based on a particular aspect of the condition.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Service Lead for the South Eastern Trust, Catriona Boyd said, “As a team we have certainly seen our patients benefit greatly from taking part in the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme with fewer symptom exacerbations, shorter hospital stays and an overall reported improvement in their quality of life.”

Patients can be referred to the programme by their Consultant, Allied Health Professional or Nursing staff. Once a referral is received by the Community Respiratory Team or Pulmonary Rehabilitation Service Lead, it will be triaged and patients will be allocated a slot in an assessment clinic.  A Respiratory Team Physiotherapist or Nurse will assess suitability, fitness and safety to take part in the programme. If no concerns are identified at this appointment, then they will be added to the class waiting list and will be invited to attend once a space becomes available, usually within six weeks of assessment.

Once a patient has completed the programme, they will be offered a referral to Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) for information on local respiratory support programmes, or  onto the Physical Activity Referral Scheme (PARS) for a follow up 12 week gym membership/exercise programme at a Council leisure centre close to home. Patients can be referred for a further course of Pulmonary Rehabilitation one year after they have completed their last course with the Trust. There is no limit to the number of times a patient is referred to the programme.

Further information on Pulmonary Rehabilitation is available by emailing pulmonary.rehabilitation@setrust.hscni.net