Billy from Newtownards describes the machine in his living room as a “lifesaver”. Every morning, telemonitoring equipment provided by the South–Eastern Trust, takes vital readings which are transmitted from his home to healthcare professionals who can monitor him from a distance.
Billy, who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), says that when you have a long term health condition, you have to become an expert in your own health. “I check the readings for myself every day. It is very reassuring to me and members of my family to know my condition is being monitored on a daily basis. If they detect any deterioration in my health, the Ulster Hospital is notified immediately and they send an ambulance, often even before I have a chance to feel unwell.”
Billy attends an exercise class and says that keeping active is very important when you have a respiratory condition. He says, “Exercise helps me cope with life. It keeps me and my lungs fit. The fitter your lungs are, the easier it is to do every day activities and manage your COPD.”
Billy also attends Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s Respiratory Group and says that when you are diagnosed with something like COPD, meeting with other people who face the same issues as yourself is vital. The groups give people a chance to talk to the co–ordinator and each other about things that concern them relating to their health, benefits or everyday life. He describes the organised talks and activities as “useful and educational.” And for people who find it difficult to get out of their homes, having company and conversation for an hour or two really lifts their spirits.
The friends he has made through the groups are very dear to Billy. They provide each other with a vital support network, phoning each other and visiting when someone becomes ill. Billy commented, “We look out for each other in the group. My friends there are lifesavers too.”
Find out more about the respiratory services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.