Belfast man, Paddy Lynas, is enjoying a double celebration on World COPD Day. The father of two celebrated his 70th birthday on 11thNovember and is also celebrating the amazing fact that his health is now better at 70 than when he was first diagnosed with a respiratory condition, 8 years ago.
Paddy explains just how far he has come. “I was diagnosed with respiratory disease when I was 62 years old and was told there was no cure. To be honest, I thought my life was over. I felt very low because of my diagnosis, the resulting loss of my job and the death of several close family members. But now eight years later, I have just celebrated my 70thbirthday with my wife, our two children, family and friends. I am off all medication and in 2015 I was officially discharged by my respiratory consultant, even though I was told my lung condition would never improve. I have walked marathons and even climbed Slieve Donard!
“I put it all down to the help I received from Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke so today, on World COPD Day, I would like to tell others living with a respiratory condition that there is help out there. If it hadn’t been for NICHS, I simply wouldn’t be here today. They saved my life.”
Paddy first heard about the support leading local health charity, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, offers people with long term chest conditions when he received a letter from their Respiratory Co-ordinator, inviting him to take part in their ‘Taking Control’ Self Management Programme, which is now a crucial part of the charity’s new Breathing Better programme.
Pauline Millar, Head of Respiratory Services for the charity, and the person who initially sent the letter to Paddy explains, “Figures released by the Department of Health show the number of people living with COPD in Northern Ireland has risen to over 40,000 people. This is an alarming increase of almost 1,000 people in one year. As well as problems with breathing, they can also experience problems sleeping, feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety or depression, and can become isolated from family and friends as a result.
“Last year NICHS launched its new Breathing Better programme which aims to improve patients’ confidence and give them a greater sense of control over their condition. Previously patients took part in a number of treatment plans delivered by different areas of the health service and voluntary sector. Breathing Better pulls these plans together into one coherent, co-ordinated pathway which marks a significant step forward for respiratory support in Northern Ireland.
“Our message to people on World COPD Day is that we are here to support people with long term chest conditions. Paddy has seen a huge difference in his life and we can make a massive difference to other people’s lives too.”
Spearheaded by Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, Breathing Better is a collaborative service provided by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, local Health and Social Care Trusts and local leisure facilities. It incorporates NICHS’s Respiratory Family Support, the Trust’s pulmonary rehabilitation, NICHS’s ‘Taking Control’ Self Management Programme, then maintenance exercise classes in local leisure facilities and NICHS’s Respiratory Support Group. It was launched in Belfast for World COPD Day 2017. This November it has been launched in the southern part of the Western Trust for World COPD Day 2018. The charity plans to roll the service out across all other Trust areas by the end of 2019.
If you or a loved one has a long term have a long term respiratory condition, you can get more details about support services in your area on www.nichs.org.uk/supportservices. Alternatively you can contact NICHS on 028 9032 0184, firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.nichs.org.uk/request-a-callback.