Managing breathlessness one video at a time

St Christopher’s has released a series of eight short videos designed to help people struggling with breathlessness by capturing key advice and techniques shown to patients on the breathlessness management course run by their Rehabilitation Team. The videos were generously funded by the Sebba Trust.

Breathlessness is experienced by a significant proportion of people with life-limiting illnesses and is particularly distressing for many; leading to anxiety, loss of sleep, fatigue and reduced function. It is often difficult to reduce breathlessness by medical means alone and there are negative cycles of breathing patterns, activity levels and thoughts which exacerbate the symptoms further. By recognising these cycles and providing simple, effective techniques to break them, the Rehabilitation Team at St Christopher’s often sees a significant change in an individual’s experience of breathlessness.

These short videos deliver manageable, bite-sized pieces of information and advice in a way that is easy to understand and could be applied to other associated symptoms such as frailty, anxiety and fatigue. Four of the videos focus specifically on breathlessness management and cover breathing, functioning, thinking and managing breathlessness attacks and panic. The other four videos focus on exercises that you can do at home including lying, seated and standing exercises and a short, guided relaxation exercise. Both the breathlessness management videos and the exercises at home videos can be found on St Christopher’s website.

St Christopher’s Rehabilitation and Wellbeing Consultation Lead, Helena Talbot-Rice, was closely involved in the production process: “Making the videos was a challenging but rewarding experience, bringing valuable insights into the best way of using media in this way. Using an animation for the first four videos was far harder than we originally envisaged but we are delighted with the result and user feedback has been really positive.”

The videos have been created for anyone experiencing breathlessness, whether or not they have attended the breathlessness management course at St Christopher’s. The aim is that they will be useful to people who are housebound and unable to make it to the sessions or who need a reminder following the sessions. The images, demonstrations and simple subtitles in the videos also benefit those who are unable to fully engage in group sessions because of memory difficulties or hearing loss. Additionally, they are a useful resource for both carers, volunteers and even other healthcare professionals keen to understand more about how to help someone suffering with breathlessness.

Whatever the circumstances may be, the focus of rehabilitation at St Christopher’s is always to help people to live full and active lives until they die. St Christopher’s Rehabilitation Team hopes that these videos will help people to do exactly that by giving them the support they need to manage their breathlessness.

Photo caption:  The project’s Rehabilitation and Wellbeing Consultation Lead, Helena Talbot-Rice, at one of the recording sessions: https://vimeo.com/301894333.

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