You've given me my life back - Breathe

You’ve given me my life back

Tue 2 Nov

When you’re suffering with a respiratory condition, even the lightest physical activity can leave you feeling breathless and prone to panic attacks. Our Head of Communications, Lucy Fox, caught up with Steve Morris following his completion of a 10-week Breathe Sing for Lung Health course.

Breathe Sing for Lung Health is a programme for patients with respiratory conditions, which helps manage symptoms through physical warm-ups, vocal exercises and group singing.  Delivered in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS respiratory team, Breathe Sing is now offered to people with chronic respiratory and lung conditions living in Warwickshire as part of Warwickshire County Council’s Creative Health Warwickshire programme.

Steve was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2008. He would frequently find himself breathless doing everyday activities and then in panic mode when he felt he couldn’t breathe. His condition was already life limiting, however, when he contracted Covid-19, the damage to his lungs worsened and the fear of not being able to breathe became overwhelming.

In July 2021, Breathe’s Project Manager Mary Stones got in touch to ask if he would like to join Breathe Sing, a 10-week online singing programme. Steve was keen to try anything that might help his condition.

When he joined the first session on Zoom, he was slightly apprehensive. He was in a band once upon a time but, in Steve’s own words, “they weren’t very good” and he saved his singing for the shower. However, Steve thought, “if you’re going to do it, do it,” and he was quickly reaping the benefits of the programme (and hasn’t stopped singing since)!

I have never had so much energy and felt so well. It really is amazing. I no longer fear getting out of breath because I learned how to slow things down and get control back. This course along with the rehab has been the best thing ever… I really can’t thank you, Elisa and the whole team, for helping me to really live again.
Steve, Breathe Sing participant

The proven benefits of Breathe Sing include: 

  • An improvement in breathing control. 
  • Increased social participation, reducing feelings of isolation. 
  • Tools for self-management of posture, breath and anxiety.
  • A fun, sociable activity that provides a distraction from breathlessness. 

These are achieved through breathing techniques, vocal exercises and learning various songs, sometimes in a three-part harmony.  Warm-up activities help participants with their posture and challenge them physically as well as cognitively.  All sessions are led by a trained Singing for Lung Health Leader.  

In this short clip from his conversation with Lucy, he shares his feelings on how the experience has benefited him.

Steve couldn’t believe how quickly the techniques transformed his breathing.

Following the 10-week programme, Steve was put forward for a pulmonary rehab course. He believes that without Breathe Sing, he wouldn’t have had the confidence to control his breathing and tackle the more physical exercises on the course. “I can ride a bike again and not get frightened, I have the confidence to be breathless,” Steve told Lucy.  He was able to push himself physically with no fear and has now, for the first time in his life, joined a gym.  

Don’t just take Steve’s word for it, recent evaluation and feedback from Breathe Sing participants showed that: 

  • 100% reported a positive impact on their connection with others. 
  • 92% reported a positive impact on their sense of being cared for.
  • 83% reported a positive impact on their experience of the healthcare environment. 

100%

Reported a positive impact on their wellbeing.

To take part in the programme, participants can be referred by their GP or clinician. Interest in Breathe Sing for Lung Health Warwickshire can also be registered here or directly with Mary at mary@breatheahr.org. 

The Creative Health Warwickshire programme is funded through the Warwickshire County Council Early Intervention and Prevention and Community Capacity fund.  

To find out more about the Creative Health Warwickshire programme, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/creativehealth