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Hitting the right notes on health

11 Nov 2019 09:41:32
Breathing Space choir members

Breathing Space, a community service in Rotherham for people with respiratory conditions, is marking World COPD Day on November 20 with a range of information stalls and a special performance by the Breathing Space choir.

The day-long event will be a chance to learn about respiratory diseases, pulmonary rehabilitation taster sessions and smoking cessation.

To highlight World COPD Day, Breathing Space is also proud to be hosting an art exhibition created by Hull York medical school, ‘Bringing Breathlessness into View’, which aims to raise awareness of what it is like to live with breathlessness.

Tracy Ward, specialist respiratory nurse at Breathing Space, said respiratory disease is a problem is Rotherham. “The industrial heritage, smoking prevalence and social deprivation in the area means we have a huge problem with respiratory disease, the most common being COPD. We are trying to identify respiratory problems early, especially in smokers and people who are breathless. If we can make an early diagnosis and educate them to manage their condition it will improve their quality of life. Respiratory disease has a huge impact on the people of Rotherham, many people simply don’t know they have it.”

World COPD Day is a chance to highlight the condition and ways to help manage it, and the team at Breathing Space offer a range of services in a relaxed environment at its purpose-built facilities at Badsley Moor, which houses the biggest pulmonary rehabilitation service in the country. 

The Breathing Space choir is made up of people who have gone through the centre’s pulmonary rehabilitation programme and helps participants with breathing exercises. It’s also a bit of fun.

Chris Happer, choir member and service user, was diagnosed with a respiratory illness four years ago and was told he was likely to have only between one and five years to live. 

“I see my consultant every six months and he does a lung test to see how my condition is. The deterioration seems to be due to the numerous industrial environments I have worked in all my life, confined spaces, sand blasting, mining, cement works etc.”

Chris, who had existing heart issues, was experiencing difficulties with breathing a few years ago and went to the doctor who diagnosed him with Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonia (NSIP).

Chris said: “The lungs will never recover. I have now given up work which was a big thing for me. I come here once a week to the gym and the choir. I have nine grandchildren and I do everything possible to prevent further deterioration of the lungs. The facilities here are brilliant. It is good that I can go here once a week doing things I wouldn’t be doing without the facilities here. These help me maintain my stability.”

Jenny Simmonite, another member of the Breathing Space choir, said it was the social side of things that she liked. “Is it the contact with people too. The choir is a good team. It is fun too.”

There will be information and various activities for visitors to Breathing Space on World COPD Day, from 10am-3pm and all are welcome.