Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke
Breathing Better


Is your lung condition…

  • Stopping you getting a good night’s sleep?
  • Making you feel angry, frustrated, anxious or depressed?
  • Making you isolated from friends and family?
  • Limiting your enjoyment of family life and hobbies?
  • Stopping you doing the things you want to do?

Then Breathing Better could help you….

The Breathing Better Support Network is a collaborative service provided by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, your local Health and Social Care Trust 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 and NICHS’s Respiratory Support Group.


Frank Johnston was diagnosed with COPD in 2014.

“Back in those early days, I was having an exacerbation every five to six weeks. I couldn’t sleep lying down as I found it difficult to breathe. I also had to give up golf.

“NICHS told me that although COPD can’t be cured, it can be managed. I didn’t believe them! I went on their ‘Taking Control’ programme as a total sceptic but it has been a complete transformation.

“I haven’t had any exacerbations for 18 months. I sleep lying down in my bed and I am back to playing golf. It has given me a new lease of life.”
Frank went to the NICHS “Taking Control” Self Management Programme, which aims to help people with long term health conditions develop the skills and confidence needed to better manage their conditions and therefore feel stronger and better equipped to deal with daily life.

In addition to respiratory patients “Taking Control” is also suitable for patients with diabetes, ischemic heart disease, heart failure and stroke.

The programme is a weekly workshop of 2.5 hours over 6 weeks. It is free of charge and covers the following :

  • Managing symptoms
  • Medication”how–to”
  • Working with your health care team
  • Setting weekly goals
  • Effective problem solving
  • Better communication
  • Handling difficult emotions
  • How to relax
  • Tips for eating well


We take referrals from healthcare professionals and self-referrals. Click here if you would like to refer someone, or yourself, to “Taking Control”.


Helen Logan, a practice nurse who works in the Belfast Trust, has referred a number of patients to “Taking Control”.










“Like all healthcare professionals, I want the best for my patients but I only have 20 minutes to spend on their annual reviews. I do as much as I can in that time, but the fact that I can refer my complex cases onto Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s “Taking Control” Self Management Programme gives me a further treatment option.

“Patients whose conditions are out of control, patients who could benefit from lifestyle changes, patients who are in denial about their health and patients who are feeling depressed – “Taking Control” can help them all.

“I have seen the difference this programme makes, not only in my patients’ clinical results and lifestyles, but also in their demeanour. The results are amazing. It is so good for the patient and has a ripple effect throughout the whole family.”

Like us, Helen has seen the difference “Taking Control” makes. But don’t just take our word for it! Watch these videos to find out how “Taking Control” has helped others.