The Asthma Society of Ireland today launched their new Sláintecare-funded, Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp messaging support service, which is available to patients with asthma and COPD, and their family and carers.
39,965 people have asthma in Cork, while 59,715 people have COPD.
The current Covid-19 pandemic is a time of particular worry for people with asthma and their families. While people with asthma are not more likely to contract coronavirus, they may experience more severe symptoms if they do so – managing your asthma well has never been more important.
The Asthma Society’s new Beating Breathless WhatsApp messaging service allows patients to message a respiratory specialist nurse about all aspects of their asthma management. Users can simply save the WhatsApp nurse support service number 086 0590132 to their phones, send their message or support query and one of the Asthma Society’s respiratory specialist nurses will respond as soon as possible.
This service complements the existing Asthma Society’s existing Asthma and COPD Adviceline 1800 44 54 64, which has been a valuable source of information for asthma and COPD patients since the pandemic began – second only to www.hse.ie in terms of trust according to a recent survey.
The Asthma Society’s Medical Advisory Group members have expressed a concern about seeing fewer patients present at GP and hospital level. The Asthma Society of Ireland encourages asthma and COPD patients to reach out to their GP / Consultant and leave a message. Patients need to be reassured that all healthcare professionals are doing their utmost to look after everyone in this difficult environment and that healthcare professionals will get back regarding your medication / healthcare concerns.
Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the Asthma Society of Ireland, said: “The results of our survey indicate that people with asthma are extremely anxious about coronavirus. People with asthma and COPD are considered to be a higher risk if they do contract coronavirus and therefore they do require additional support in these uncertain times.
Asked for their greatest concern for the weeks ahead patients responded: “I fear me or my asthmatic child getting the virus and the terror of being separated from him if he had to go to hospital,” and, “I’m worried about not being considered for an in-demand ventilator due to asthma,” and, “that I would not be considered worth saving (due to asthma).”
We believe that the new Sláintecare funded, Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp messaging service can help users ease some of their concerns right now during the coronavirus pandemic and we believe it will continue to support and assist patients.”
Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said: “Beating Breathlessness empowers people affected by Asthma or COPD to manage their condition, with the guidance of a nurse over WhatsApp’s messaging service. One of the aims of the Sláintecare Integration Fund is for people to become more engaged and empowered in their own healthcare, and this service allows people to do that, with medical support. Beating Breathlessness is innovative in how it provides information and support to people who need it, making it easier for people to access these supports anytime and anywhere. It shows how care can be provided even while social distancing, and that there are numerous ways people can access the supports they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those offered by the Asthma Society whose services have been even more acutely needed by patients in recent months.”
The survey also showed that people with asthma and COPD are quite knowledgeable on COVID-19 and how to protect themselves. Almost all (98pc) knew to phone their GP was the first step towards getting tested for COVID-19. Three out of four people (77pc) confident in listing how to protect against COVID-19 and confident in listing the symptoms of COVID-19. This is hugely positive, as education is key in protecting against COVID-19, especially if a patient is considered vulnerable.
Visit www.asthma.ie for more information about the new Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp service, as well as activities taking place during Asthma Awareness Week, or visit https://www.asthma.ie/10-million-steps-for-asthma for details of the 10 Million Steps for Asthma fundraising campaign.