Whakakotahitia a Mate Romahā

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Established in 2008, the Integrated Respiratory Service has been fundamental in helping more people get support for their breathing conditions.

Diagnostic tests like spirometry and sleep studies are now able to be done in the community, closer to people in their homes, not just in the hospital. 

Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation is the only evidence-based intervention available for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and the community respiratory team deliver nine programmes a year throughout the region.

Community support and exercise groups are there to maintain exercise goals, and to remain connected with other people with similar conditions.

The Better Breathing Consumer Group represent the Better Breathing programmes and support groups and contribute to the development of new services and patient materials.

Specialist respiratory nurses and physicians are available to support general practice teams and community providers to look after their respiratory patients.

The Integrated Respiratory Service is overseen by the Integrated Respiratory Service Development Group (IRSDG), which includes representatives from consumers, Māori, Pasifika, general practice, community pharmacy, hospital and district nursing.

The Day 2 Project sees people who have been admitted to hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) given a full assessment which considers the physical, emotional, social and environmental factors linked to their condition. This helps those involved in their care make connections with appropriate services and resources on their discharge from hospital.

Hospital stays for people with COPD can last as little as three days, so this assessment will be carried out from the second day to fit around clinical activity.

The 12-month project, which started in June 2021, is led by a steering group of which half of the members are consumers with lived experience of COPD, working alongside clinicians to develop the new model. The project uses the partnership in design approach, putting people and whānau at the centre of the design of ā tātou (our own) health system and services.

The steering group will work with organisations outside of health that can influence the social factors that impact lung health, such as housing and access to nutritious foods and physical activity opportunities. The goal is to reduce the overall admission of people with COPD into hospital by 20 per cent, and readmissions from 20% to 12%.

Latest News

Exercise, kōrero and friendship

22 Dec, 2020 | Return|

When the Phillipstown Better Breathing Coffee Group gather at the local community hub on Monday mornings the result is lots of laughter and kōrero, as well as exercise.

The group’s coordinator Pauline Mohi says this group includes some motivated Māori wahine who encourage and inspire each other, which is fantastic. 

“The group is one of the Canterbury Community Respiratory Support and Exercise Groups, Ngā Rōpū Kai Tiaki ō Ōtautahi, that offer fun and easy exercise, connection and education about living with a long-term breathing condition,” says Pauline. 

One of the group members, Karewai Knap, had a double hip operation in 2016 and was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2017. 

“I’ve always been active and when I couldn’t walk to Eastgate Mall, which is eight minutes away from my home, without being puffed I knew something wasn’t right,” says Karewai. 

“I did the Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation in New Brighton and then joined this exercise and coffee group. I also do gym work, tai chi and I’ve just started weight-lifting and bench pressing.”

“I still love to come here on a Monday, as it was my stepping-stone to my other activities. I love what I’m doing and I’m going to keep on doing it.”

Whiro Tui Merito got double pneumonia in March, which stopped her from doing everyday tasks like pegging out the washing.  

“It knocked me right out and I couldn’t walk or breathe very well, but I’m so much better now and I can do lots of things,” says Whiro. 

Patsy Hooper said she comes for the company, exercise and that communicating with everyone in the group is key for her. 

Mark Crawford, one of a couple of men who attend the group, said he lives in a council complex and everyone keeps to themselves. 

“A lot of men are hesitant to do a lot of things, but my advice is to get out of your shell and join a group.

It’s very beneficial; you need to look after your mental health as much as everything else,” says Mark. 
“Just get out and enjoy the day and try not to worry about things.” 

“We have fun, we have morning teas and listen to guest speakers who present about all sorts of topics,” says Pauline. 

“That you’re together and having fun is as big a part of it as the exercises.”

People should talk to their general practice team if they are struggling with their breathing. If appropriate they may be referred to a Better Breathing course, a free eight-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme available for people with long-term breathing conditions like COPD. From this programme they can join an exercise and coffee group. 

A timetable is available on the Canterbury Clinical Network website here and the latest Better Breathing Consumer Working Group newsletter is here

Watch a video of the group here.


About the Author


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Useful resources

Work Plan 2021-22

For Integrated Respiratory SDG. Read full CCN work plan.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation flyer

Information about Canterbury Community Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Funded Inhalers

Poster showing the funded inhalers in New Zealand 2019.

Exercise groups flyer

Flyer with details of the community respiratory support and exercise groups.

Learning to breathe better

Breathing Breathing Programme - a patient perspective.