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Ian’s story – The life changing impact of rehab

Ian BaxterIan Baxter was diagnosed with COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – in 2004 after experiencing tightness in his chest and breathlessness. Medication didn’t really help. The realisation that he had a lifelong illness hit him hard, and he developed depression. But then his local practice nurse sent him along to a lung rehabilitation group.

‘There is no doubt that pulmonary rehabilitation helped to turn my life around. I learnt more about my condition and how to cope with it. The combination of exercise, education and support was fantastic. The nurse who supported us really took the time to listen to our feelings and explain everything. It allowed me to be much more in control of my COPD and my life.”

As a follow up to the rehab programme, Ian’s nurse suggested some support groups but they were some distance away. So Ian and friends started up their own group, the Forfar Airways Group.

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland provided the group with a grant, insurance and support to enable it to grow. Angus Council put Ian through an exercise qualification so the group could still include physical activity sessions when their yoga teacher wasn’t available. The group now has up to 40 members taking part in physical activity and socialising. The group even uses singing to help their breathing control, and giving them the feel-good factor.

‘Personally I get a huge boost out of attending the group, it’s great to know I’m helping others and it has also helped me with my depression by giving me a sense of purpose and belonging. Everyone in the group is treated as family.’
Ian wants the group’s voices and experience to help other people with COPD in Scotland, and he now chairs the local patient steering group for pulmonary rehabilitation.

“I believe everyone should be entitled to pulmonary rehabilitation, it can be a life changing experience for many people‘”

Read our publication: Frequently Asked Questions on Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PDF)