The Oxford Health Pulmonary Rehabilitation Respiratory Service which supports people in Oxfordshire coping with their breathlessness, has continued to deliver its courses to highly at-risk patients through COVID.

The team provide free short-term courses to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic respiratory conditions, helping them to manage their breathlessness, to feel fitter and stronger and to have a better quality of life.

The courses would normally be held in local gyms and leisure centres. During the pandemic, following an initial phone call or digital consultation, the team send out course packs to patients, consisting of a combination of exercises and education, tailored around their individual needs.

Patients receive regular phone support from the team of physiotherapists, nurses, occupational therapists and therapy assistants. They can also join the weekly virtual exercise sessions in small groups of mixed abilities.

Pulmonary rehabilitation lead, Emma Tucker, said: “Our Pulmonary Rehabilitation courses help people to be able to do more day-to-day, and to understand their lung conditions better so they can help themselves to stay fitter and healthier with the aim to staying out of hospital.”

“We know that people get quite anxious about going to a gym anyway, even before the pandemic.  We are following guidance from the British Thoracic Society, but we are keen to keep things virtual for the time being.”

Two members of the team, Suzi Hambidge (pictured above) and Julie Whiting, had experience teaching classes ‘from the front’ in previous fitness/pilates instructor roles. The team were able to quickly pull together an adaptable programme, that everyone could enjoy in the comfort of their own surroundings.

Those service users with mobility issues, said they had really benefited from the sessions ‘coming to them’. One patient left this review on the ‘I Want Great Care’ feedback website after completing the course:

“Having mobility issues, I found that having the group come to me, virtually, rather than having to get myself to a gym or local hall to be a real benefit. I do intend to continue the exercises because the more I do it the better I feel.”

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation team have been instrumental in setting up the Post COVID rehabilitation pathway and they are currently assessing and treating patients for these additional needs. They helped to produce this useful Post COVID leaflet.

For further information about Oxford Health’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Respiratory Service, visit: https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/?service_description=pulmonary-rehabilitation-service