New clinic helps patients manage their breathlessness

9th Oct 2014

New clinic helps patients manage their breathlessness

PATIENTS across Sandwell who suffer with breathlessness are being helped by a new six week pilot clinic which has been established to help them manage respiratory symptoms which can be caused by anxiety.

The clinic is the brainchild of Kelly Redden-Rowley, who heads up the community respiratory team of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. She explained: “Since 1997 we have provided the Pulmonary Rehabilitation service, which helps patients who suffer from respiratory symptoms to improve their overall fitness and reduce the occurrence of breathlessness. Over the years we have helped literally thousands of patients, and are held up as an example of best practice across the country.

“However I recognised that some patients were suffering more because of their anxiety about their symptoms, which in turn leads to increased attendance at A&E departments and even admittance to hospital.

“This new clinic was established specifically for those people, to help them manage their symptoms and use relaxation techniques, pacing and other self management skills to lessen their symptoms and empower them to feel in control of their breathing. It is a holistic approach where we address symptoms not conditions.”

Patient Valerie Davies agrees: “I have been attending the clinic for the last three weeks and it has been very, very helpful to me. It has taught me a lot about relaxation and given me the information I need to relax and not let my worry about feeling breathless make my symptoms worse. Being in control means I can manage myself and don’t need to go to A&E or see the doctor.

“I have especially enjoyed the talks I have attended, with the one by Diana Webb (Palliative Care Consultant) being very good.”

The clinic is run out of Bradbury Day Center, and is an excellent example of integrated working as it is run by Respiratory Physiotherapist Ruth Morrey and Occupational Therapist Cathy Carmody-Heaton. Both clinicians are members of the community service working in different teams, but have come together to provide a one-stop shop for patients who need their help.

Kelly added: “This is a first for the people of Sandwell, who are already able to access our highly regarded Community Pulmonary Rehabilitation Service. In time it is possible that we could extend this pilot out to patients with other conditions where anxiety is a factor in making their symptoms worse. In this we can show patients how to manage their anxiety so they can concentrate on living fuller lives and participate in activities that are important to them.”

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