One of those who has experienced the Birmingham hospice’s programme is 55-year-old Catherine Savin from Bromford. Catherine was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in November 2013 after experiencing shortness of breath.
“COPD was just a group of letters to me – it didn’t mean anything,” she recalled. “All I knew was that it made me suffer. I used to feel tired all the time, coughing and wheezing so much that I couldn’t even walk down the street.”
Catherine, who lives at home with her daughter and three granddaughters, soon found that the condition was making it difficult for her to breathe – and she was sleeping on the sofa permanently because she couldn’t face walking upstairs.
She was referred to John Taylor Hospice in November 2014, and started the nine week Fatigue, Anxiety and Breathlessness (FAB) programme in February this year. FAB helps people with severe breathing problems to manage their symptoms through exercise and cognitive behaviour therapy.
Catherine is extremely grateful for the impact that the programme has had on her life.
“We learned about what goes on in your lungs when you’re finding it difficult to breathe and how to stay in control,” she said. “I understand my illness a lot better now and I know how to cope with it – and that makes me feel less afraid. FAB really opened my eyes. It was life-changing.
“I don’t get that heavy feeling in my chest as much now and I take each day as it comes. I’ve never known my breathing to be the way it is. Everything feels so much easier. I’m an entirely different person now – I can’t thank them enough.”
The FAB programme was created by John Taylor Hospice senior clinical occupational therapist Faye Collins and senior clinical physiotherapist Louise Tipson. The hospice’s respiratory palliative care nurse, Philippa Campbell, also helps run the sessions and visits Catherine in her home.
Philippa was delighted at the progress that Catherine had made:
“As a nurse, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone we have cared for back on their feet and smiling again,” she said. “That’s what the FAB programme is all about – giving life back.
“Each programme runs for nine weeks with up to 12 people in each group. Together, we look at ways of coping with fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness, bringing it all down to a more manageable level – as Catherine has done.”
Contact John Taylor Hospice to find out more about the FAB programme.