Innovative and community-partnered pulmonary rehabilitation for seniors in NB | MEKTU | NB-IRDT | UNB

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Innovative and community-partnered pulmonary rehabilitation for seniors in NB

Lead organization: Government of New Brunswick, Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and New Brunswick Community College

Principle investigator(s): Tammie Fournier

About the project:

The issue

In New Brunswick (NB), breathing problems, especially Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), are common in senior citizens.  Today, one out of every five NB seniors (20%) has COPD and this number is climbing each year.  COPD education and therapy (in a pulmonary rehabilitation program) teaches people how to manage their disease from home, prevents doctor and hospital visits, and teaches how to improve everyday activities. 

The importance

More people in NB are admitted to hospital because of COPD than even heart failure. Seniors with COPD are at risk of worsening lung health and many, especially those who are not receiving the proper education and therapy for COPD, will have a shorter life span. Pulmonary rehab. can prevent doctor and hospital visits and improve quality of life; unfortunately, pulmonary rehab. isn’t available to all people who need it in NB due to long wait times, long travel distances, and a limited number of clinic hours.

What makes this project different

The project will create four community-based pulmonary rehab clinics that deliver education and therapy to 40 male and female senior citizens in both educational and private settings. Health students will lead each of the clinics and will help seniors to improve their ability to confidently manage their COPD themselves.

Anticipated impacts

After a 10-week pulmonary rehab. clinic, at an individual level, seniors will improve their ability to confidently manage their own COPD. They will walk farther, feel fewer COPD related symptoms, and will have more positive feelings about their overall health. 

At a community level, with the help of government and non-government organizations, we will create and test community pulmonary rehab clinics that will be achievable and re-creatable so that, in the future, seniors in different communities of NB will have access to pulmonary rehab. for their COPD.

At a systems level, student-led pulmonary rehabilitation clinics will be a successful method of delivering pulmonary rehabilitation services to those with COPD. Taking advantage of resources already in place (such as instructors, students, space and equipment already in place at NBCC), pulmonary rehab clinics can contribute to student training and skills development while avoiding the typically high costs linked to starting such clinics.

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