Local health charity NI Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) is launching its 25th Respiratory Support Group in Northern Ireland in a joint venture with the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership in West Belfast.
The new Colin Respiratory Group will provide support and advice for people in the Colin area affected by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, an umbrella term for conditions including bronchitis and emphysema. Around 27,000 people are currently undergoing treatment for COPD in Northern Ireland.
Sam Kelly, (81) a member of the new respiratory group lives in the Colin area and was diagnosed with COPD 30 years ago. He said: “The group has helped me develop ways to manage my COPD, as well as being a great social outlet where you can meet with people who have similar problems to you. Any help with this illness goes a long way, because as anyone with the condition will tell you, nothing else matters when you can’t breathe.”
The group is being launched on the 16th November 2011 to coincide with World COPD Day, which aims to raise awareness of COPD and its symptoms. COPD cannot be cured and is predicted by the World Health Organisation to become the third leading cause of death around the world by 2030. But it can be treated and managed – and the earlier it is caught, the better.
Andrew Dougal, NICHS Chief Executive said: “NICHS is very pleased to help establish the Colin Respiratory Group. The support and advice on offer can greatly help people living with the condition. This group also adds to the existing network of support groups we have set up to help rebuild lives across Northern Ireland.”
The Colin Respiratory Support Group aims to provide information and advice on living with and self managing COPD, offering advice on healthy lifestyles, such as diet and nutritional information or help with smoking cessation. The group also provides the opportunity for people to discuss and share experiences and ways of coping as well as providing information on other support services and rehabilitation.
Umberto Scappaticci, Community Development Worker at Colin Neighbourhood Partnership, said of the Respiratory Support Group: “It is great to see a support group like this in the Colin community. Respiratory problems affect a significant percentage of people in this area and it is great that they now have somewhere to meet to get support and advice. The Respiratory Support Group will meet in Brook Activity Centre and anyone living with a respiratory condition is more than welcome to attend.”
The group’s sessions at the Brook Activity Centre in Poleglass, Belfast, will run from 11.00am to 1pm on the third Wednesday of every month. Maureen Bruce, Community Health Development Worker from South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust who is based in the Colin community, said: “We identified a need for a local Respiratory Support Group from having worked with many people who live with a long term illness. We approached Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) and Colin Neighbourhood Partnership (CNP) to initiate a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (C.O.P.D.) group. This will help people in the local Colin area who join the group to understand their condition and manage it on a daily and on–going basis. It is a very positive step forward for many people living with respiratory disease in Colin.”
NI Chest Heart and Stroke says that many people may have the symptoms of COPD, but have not yet been diagnosed. “Better diagnosis and early intervention could reduce the local death rate, cut hospital admissions and save the Health Service some of the £47m it costs to treat respiratory illnesses – including COPD and asthma – in Northern Ireland each year,” said Andrew Dougal. “We would urge people with symptoms like constant coughing, wheezing or breathlessness to have them checked out by their doctor.”NI Chest Heart and Stroke’s Respiratory Support Network of 25 groups operates in every health trust in Northern Ireland providing advice, support and therapy for those who suffer from respiratory illness and their families.
Pauline Millar, NICHS Respiratory Co–ordinator who has worked to set up the group said: “Anyone in the Colin area who has a problem with COPD, should get in contact to see if the group could help them manage their condition, some very simple changes can help to greatly reduce problems caused by COPD. And you might enjoy the company and social outlet as well, we’re here to help with your COPD.”
If you wish to join the Colin Respiratory Group please contact Pauline Millar, NICHS Respiratory Co–ordinator on 0784 115 0949 or email email@example.com.