Raising awareness of COPD and services available 

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties.
  • COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. Many people don't realise they have it.
  • Although not curable, there are many treatments to help keep COPD under control.

Loral’s story

“You cannot cure COPD but you can maintain and manage the condition if you seek help from the right people”; explains 71 year old Loral Bennett from East Grinstead, who lives with the disease.

As Loral’s personal circumstances changed recently she found herself with more time to concentrate on her own health. She decided to go to her GP and ask to be referred to her Pulmonary Rehabilitation (COPD) Course and has not looked back since

Loral, who used to work in the health service herself, had been a long term smoker before being diagnosed with the lung condition nine years ago. As she closes in on the 8 week programme which she attends at Crawley Hospital twice a week, she has managed to get her symptoms under control and wants to encourage others to do the same.

At the beginning of the programme, you take a walking course, with another at the end, to assess your improvement. Once you have finished the programme, you can attend a maintenance session once a week".

Loral also emphasises that the classes are great for those who may feel slightly intimidated by gyms. “Although we use the same equipment as you would in a gym, being in a safe environment within the hospital and being surrounded by others who understand the difficulties you are going through makes the sessions wonderful. We have two great trainers who are on hand to asses you and take your heart rate before you start your session and regularly during to check to make sure there isn’t a flare up”.

“Usually with these type of things you see a drop off in attendance rates but what has really amazed me is how even after many weeks in, everyone is still attending the course regularly”.

Loral explained how the benefits go further than simply improving your respiratory system: “I’ve made some great friends along way; it has been so nice to get to know people who are in the same position as me”.

When asked what advice she would offer to those who think that they may have COPD, Loral said; “I absolutely recommend that you go to your GP to get a diagnosis, it is also so important that you stop smoking now and act before the symptoms become too serious”.

Loral has not even finished her 8 week course and can already see a huge improvements in her condition. “I get off the bus outside the hospital, the first time I did this I had to stop four times before getting to the physio waiting room, but now after attending the classes I go the entire way without stopping”.

The COPD classes not only provide sessions to improve your health they also provide regular talks from nurses and healthcare professionals on the best way to deal with having a long term illness.

If you think you may have COPD please make an appointment with your local GP, if you have COPD and think the service mentioned above would help you, please ask your GP for a referral. Classes are currently held in Crawley, Horsham and Haywards Heath.

COPD is a lung condition which can hugely affect a person’s life, some people may not even be aware that they have this condition, if you suffer from the following you should speak with your GP: increasing breathlessness, particularly when you're active

  • a persistent chesty cough with phlegm – some people may dismiss this as just a "smoker's cough
  • frequent chest infections
  •  persistent wheezing