In Northamptonshire, and across the country, people are living longer. However, many are also living with long-term health problems which need monitoring or treatment.

Among the most common types of long-term health problem affecting people in our county are respiratory conditions – those that affect the lungs and breathing.

Northamptonshire Health and Care Partnership wants everyone to be able to live the healthiest lives they can, wherever they live in the county.

When people become ill, they should get the care and support they need in the right place at the right time – to help them get better or to make sure they can live independent lives for as long as possible.

We know that we can do more to prevent respiratory illness in Northamptonshire, as well as to support those with respiratory illness to manage their condition and to ensure they have access to better care.

NHCP has therefore established a group to look at respiratory services and to deliver improvements to these services in 2019 and 2020.

Why are we doing this?

With the right support, people with lung conditions can manage their health and wellbeing and live independently without needing lots of medical attention.

Improving respiratory services also helps our hospitals. This is because in winter more people with respiratory conditions become ill and need to be admitted to hospital.

But if more people with respiratory illness are supported to manage their condition so they are less likely to need hospital care, this will help reduce the pressure on our hospitals in winter.

Evidence also shows that many people living with long-term conditions are at higher risk of developing depression. Treating people’s physical and mental in a more joined-up way can lead to better health outcomes.

What are our priorities?

  • Helping more people with lung conditions to stay well by getting their annual flu vaccination
  • Supporting more people to give up smoking
  • Carrying out a review of existing services for people with lung conditions
  • Improving rehabilitation services for people with respiratory illness
  • Reducing differences in health and care for people with respiratory illness in different parts of the county
  • Developing a community hub model so people can access respiratory services close to where they live
  • Working with service users to create an education programme to support living independently

New education programme supports better independence

Work is currently under way to create and test an education programme for people in Northamptonshire who have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

With the support of Northamptonshire Carers, which runs the lung health support groups Breathing Space, people with COPD are being asked to help shape the programme.

People with COPD have a range of lung conditions that cannot be cured. They can still lead happy and independent lives if their condition is managed well.

While some of this management is by health professionals, there are many ways people can help themselves. Some of these are lifestyle changes and others are through understanding their condition and what to do when it gets worse.

During June, July and August, NHCP is talking to people who attend three Breathing Space groups, as well as people who have the condition but do not currently access any support. We will be asking them what is important to them in helping them to lead healthier and happier lives. We also want to find out what they have learnt since being diagnosed that has really improved their lives and what they wish they had known.

These findings will help shape the education programme which will be tested from October with the intention of rolling it out across the county from April 2020.