Ever heard of Breathe Easy? Read on to find out how these groups help people living with lung conditions, and how you can get involved
Having worked for 12 years as a respiratory nurse I am passionate about making a difference for people living with lung conditions.
That’s why when I retired I decided to start a Breathe Easy group locally where I lived. It’s been a pleasure and so rewarding to help Breathe Easy Nottingham West to where it is today, supporting those affected by respiratory conditions.
Breathe Easy groups provide much-needed advice and information for people living with lung conditions, their families and for those who care for them.
Breathe Easy members are amazing and do so much hard work on their own, but I think it’s so important they get the extra support from nurses, physiotherapists and other health care professionals, to give them the little extra guidance they need to really keep active, engaged and informed.
This 15-21 June is Breathe Easy week, during which I’ll be celebrating the British Lung Foundation’s (BLF) 30th anniversary and their Breathe Easy network.
Groups can be found across the length and breadth of the UK and are a great way for people to meet others living with similar conditions, support each other and learn about how to best manage their symptoms, as well as to have a good old laugh.
As nurses or student nurses, I know you appreciate the value of what Breathe Easy actually means to patients, so I’ve asked members from different groups to tell me a little bit about what Breathe Easy means to them and how it’s changed their lives…
Jane Reeve, from Breathe Easy Nottingham West, said:
“I can remember being quite nervous before attending my first meeting, but I enjoyed it so much and felt right at home. I have been with Breathe Easy Nottingham West for five years now - I love it.
“We have a group of about 45 very friendly members at each meeting, and we also have an exercise group. We often have health care professionals come and talk to us and we always find what they have to say very interesting.
“As well as working very hard raising money and awareness to fight lung disease, we also have a lunch club before our meetings, which means more time to natter!”
Joan McCarthy, Chair of Breathe Easy Camden, said:
“Despite all the work I do with the local health services, running Breathe Easy Camden is the most satisfying thing I’ve done. I can actually see how much it helps my members in many different ways on a regular basis. They actually tell me what it means to them, which makes me really proud.”
Marion Burfield, from Breathe Easy North Wiltshire, said:
“I didn’t feel like Breathe Easy was for me at first, but as my confidence grew, so did my desire to go along and meet other people who understand what I’m going through. It was so comforting. It was like a breath of fresh air.
“Breathe Easy supports me by just being there. The feelings of isolation, depression and fear are made so much easier knowing there is somebody there for me. We meet every month and I really look forward to seeing friends, and listening to a speaker who can offer more support and advice. We make a mean cuppa, too!”
Joyce73, from Breathe Easy Oldham, said:
“I am pleased to say I have been a member of the Breathe Easy Oldham group for two years. I have learned a lot about my condition, COPD, from visiting GPs and consultants who have been happy for members to ask questions. We also get help from the BLF nurses who attend.
“Members started up a choir a year ago and have been invited to attend and perform at venues, requested by the NHS. We always have time for a cuppa, a chat and a raffle. We also receive a monthly newsletter which keeps members who are not able to attend up to date with events. I always come out feeling better than I went in!”
Philip Smith, from Breathe Easy Hardwick South, said:
“Breathe Easy offers both a social outlet – the opportunity to talk to people living with COPD and other similar conditions – as well as education and support from health care professionals to help manage my condition.
“This means I can reduce the frequency and severity of my exacerbations, which helps not just myself but also eases the burden on my nurses and doctors.
“There are some great characters emerging within the group and tight friendship groups are forming. Sometimes it helps just to talk to somebody who understands what you’re going through, and some members use the group as a first port of call when feeling ill.”
If you still aren’t convinced that Breathe Easy groups have loads of fun and help people live well with their lung conditions, just take a look at the video from Breathe Easy groups in Nottingham below. I hope you’ll enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it! You can get involved by becoming a BLF Professional.
Teresa Burgoyne is Secretary of Breathe Easy Nottingham West and a retired respiratory nurse