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Highlighting the importance of self-managing asthma

Service Development and Screening

Highlighting the importance of self-managing asthma

‘Self-management and structured care of asthma are key to improving the quality of life of people living with the lifelong condition’, that’s what delegates heard at a conference hosted yesterday (07 November) by the Public Health Agency (PHA) in partnership with Asthma UK Northern Ireland, on self-management of long-term conditions.

Asthma is a common condition in Northern Ireland, with around 113,900 people currently on GP registers, receiving treatment. Asthma is a condition that affects the airways - the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways (an asthma trigger), the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower and the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and starts to swell. These reactions cause the airways to become narrower and irritated - making it difficult to breathe and leading to symptoms of asthma, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Improving health outcomes for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, not only requires appropriate medical interventions but also enhanced communication and education to ensure patients, carers and families have the necessary knowledge and skills to manage their condition.

Dr Jenny Gingles, Consultant in Public Health, PHA said: “The PHA wishes to acknowledge the great support from Asthma UK Northern Ireland for the development and implementation of the Service Framework for Respiratory Health and Well-being and their continued efforts to improve asthma care in Northern Ireland.”

Self-management is a standard set out in the Service Framework for Respiratory Health and Well-being and refers to what a person with a chronic disease does to actively manage their own health and well-being so that they can:

  •          know their condition and various treatment options
  •          agree a plan of care with their healthcare professional
  •          engage in activities that protect and promote health
  •          monitor and manage the symptoms and signs of their condition
  •          know how and when to seek appropriate medical care.

The overall aim is for people to be informed, active participants in their healthcare to maintain health, and prevent or slow the progression of their disease.

Joan O’Hagan, Director of Asthma UK Northern Ireland, who presented at the Conference, added: “It is crucial that people with asthma receive support, advice and information from their GP or asthma nurse so that they are empowered to understand and manage their own condition. Asthma UK Northern Ireland looks forward to continued partnership working with the Public Health Agency to continue to shape and monitor the implementation and impact of the Standards for the Respiratory Service Framework.” 

Dr John O’Kelly who chaired the conference said: “The conference today will benefit GPs and practice nurses who provide asthma care and will help improve the understanding of self-management – the dos and don’ts and how it can successfully be used in the management of asthma.”

Further information

Contact PHA Communications on (028) 9055 3663.

Notes to the editor

Asthma UK Northern Ireland was established in 2005 to build partnerships with the people and bodies that can help us to make a difference to the 180,000 people Asthma UK estimate to have asthma in Northern Ireland. We understand the issues that matter to people in Northern Ireland and identify how we can help; we maintain specialist knowledge of the health service and its priorities and know how to influence it; and we ensure that people with asthma are represented where decisions are made that affect them whether at Stormont or Westminster.

Asthma UK has a range of self-management materials and information available online at: http://www.asthma.org.uk/how-we-help/teachers-and-healthcare-professionals/health-professionals/materials-to-help-you-and-your-patients/self-management-materials/

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