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Patient pledge to help 150 COPD sufferers this winter

18 October 2018

Special winter clinics are being introduced from the middle of October, both at Southend University Hospital and within the community, to help 150 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients most at risk from the threats that the cold of winter brings. This is the first time such a targeted intervention appointment has been tried in the UK.

These clinics are jointly run by the Trust in collaboration with the community respiratory team to help patients through winter. It can be a particularly difficult time of year for those suffering with progressive diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. 

Lisa Ward, Lead Respiratory nurse, explained the impact winter can have on a COPD sufferer's well-being. She said: "As these patients' lungs are damaged they are at increased risk of developing flare ups, especially at a time of year when the air is colder. Cool air increases the multiplication of the viruses that normally live in the nose and this can cause breathing difficulties for some severe COPD patients. Wrapping up warm with a scarf covering the mouth to warm the air as they breathe will help prevent this.

"Shortness of breath may be a daily reality for them and this combined with winter factors could mean they are more likely to be admitted to hospital, these winter clinics are a targeted intervention clinic with psychological support to help patients with self-managing their condition."

Individual action plans will be developed at the clinics which will be written down as realistic patient pledges to help them take ownership of their care. This could be everything from ensuring they wrap up warm to them having the flu jab or even making sure they can still get their prescription if they can't get out due to bad weather.

Each patient will then receive a pack that contains a named specialist nurse to contact, if they become unwell due to their breathing. Patients will be assisted to write down pledges to help them identify flare ups and manage them accordingly. They will be given a handmade knitted scarf which warms up the air going into their lungs to help reduce exacerbations.

Can you help? Scarves are needed in a non-itchy, machine-washable, subtle-coloured, wool. Knit, stitch and purl away and please send all your completed scarves to:

@copdscarfproject

73 Bowers Road, Benfleet

Essex SS7 1BH

Scarf