The Asthma Society of Ireland has 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.
This World Asthma Day, the society is raising awareness of available supports for the 12,408 people with asthma in Donegal and 17,511 people with 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 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 survey, conducted in April 2020 amongst 2,462 patients living with asthma and COPD in Ireland, asked patients about their concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic and found that:
- 9 out of 10 (92%) people with a long-term respiratory illness surveyed are very concerned or concerned about becoming infected with the coronavirus due to asthma or COPD.
- 4 out of 10 (41%) feel that there is not enough information readily available on coronavirus and its effect on people with respiratory illnesses.
- 8 out of 10 (82%) were concerned they would not be tested quickly enough if they do contract coronavirus.
- 7 out of 10 (71%) were very concerned they will require a ventilator treatment for coronavirus.
- 6 out of 10 (63%) concerned about contracting a severe form of coronavirus (due to their asthma).
- In terms of access to medications, 3 in 10 (34%) people are concerned over high demand, but not supply.
- 1 in 5 (22%) people stated that they were not confident in their medication use at this time and 3 out of 10 (31%) of people with asthma/COPD have avoided support or healthcare services because they were concerned about the health impact of coronavirus.
The final finding is of particular concern to the Asthma Society as ignoring worsening conditions for someone with asthma/COPD without medical advice could lead to an unnecessary asthma exacerbation or even death (in extreme circumstances).
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.”
The Beating Breathlessness WhatsApp messaging service or Adviceline service should not be used where a person is experiencing an asthma attack/emergency – please phone 999/112 if you are having an asthma attack to get immediate medical assistance from the ambulance services.