Occupational Therapist, Glasgow Community Respiratory Team
Within the Glasgow Community Respiratory team, we decided to actively embrace World COPD day on the 16th November by organising an information point and bake sale. The day was a great success, raising a total of £200.36 for British Lung Foundation and increasing awareness via social media including live tweets from Glasgow City HSCP twitter and photos on the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde facebook page.
Staff were in high spirits, likely fuelled by high sugar levels and were speaking passionately about COPD and the ways in which our team support and enable people within their own homes to live healthier more active lives. On reflection of the day however, it became apparent that the fun, motivation and enthusiasm that we felt on the day is often what our client group report to be missing from their own lives.
We are aware of the fact that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a debilitating condition which impacts on everyday life. We are aware that the Glasgow population are 45 % more likely to develop COPD than any other area in Scotland and that as other major causes of death in Scotland are reducing, COPD is the only major cause of death that continues to rise. So, you would be right to say…it is no wonder there often limited, if no fun, motivation and enthusiasm in the lives of the patients we come across
You may be aware of COPD patients being admitted to hospital for antibiotics and steroid therapy, discharged home only to reappear weeks later. Medically their needs may have been met in hospital, however the impact of repeated hospital admissions can wear people down not only physically but also emotionally.
Similarly, you may be aware of the COPD patient who despite breathlessness, can physically complete tasks, but at what expense to their overall lives? Is using all your energy to prepare a meal worth it, when you don’t have the energy to eat it? Or, would you use the same energy to get a taxi, to the local M&S cafe for a sandwich and a laugh with the staff? Would you choose to have a shower to feel good about yourself; only to have no energy afterwards? Or to do the ironing; only to feel exhausted that day and the next?
It is only when we get down to what really matters to that person, that it becomes clear. All the examples given above are real life conversations I have had with patients. Patients don’t always make the choices I would have made for myself. For example, my ironing pile would definitely be left alone and M&S cafe would win hands down! However, if we can enable that person, to think about the situation differently, new doors begin to open.
We often get past what people feel they should do, and get to the important things in life that will provide them with that sense of wellbeing and enjoyment. Discussing what matters to them as individuals, promoting self management and enabling people to achieve their own personal goals, helps them to build confidence within their daily life.
Often as a little fun, motivation and enthusiasm are reintroduced, living with COPD, although continuing to provide challenges, can seem just a little bit more positive.