COPD - what careworkers need to know

28 Nov 2018 9:50 PM
COPD - what careworkers need to know

A Q & A with Saskia , who is living with COPD, should be eye opening for all careworkers as there is much you need to know.

Saskia is living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Emphysema and Fibrosis, all very serious lung diseases, for the past two years.

She has been on oxygen full time for 1 year and this entails two oxygen pumps and 5 metres of tubing permanently located in her home. Saskia moves about on a small electric wheelchair. She has a part-time careworker, twice daily, to assist with showering, meals and walking her beloved dog. Also, a food shopper and cleaner once a fortnight. In this article, she describes her life with COPD and what a good careworker should know.


What is it like living with COPD?

It's miserable and sometimes it makes me anxious. The disease limits the ability to go out and do things. Even going to shops or any distance from home.

I have to take oxygen everywhere with me. I’m on the large oxygen pump units when I’m at home and a portable unit when I go out.


What is it like to go out or travel?

If I travel I get anxious about oxygen on the flights. I have to

anticipate all travel plans to minimise any anxiety.


How do you deal with the anxiety?

I keep it in internally and just deal with it.


What do careworkers need to know?

They need to know about the tubing on the floor, not to trip over it and keep it clear of my wheelchair wheels. Also swapping over oxygen pumps in different rooms and making sure they’re both turned off or on.

Careworkers need to be patient with me. They need to keep my small hand-held fans nearby as I use them to help me breathe.

Also, wait for me to catch my breath. (See article below from the Lung Foundation about hand-held fans).


What is a good day?

Having friends and family around, my dog being happy, going to Pilates and going out to lunch with friends.

Sunshine and lollipops! Being surrounded by happy people.


A not so good day?

Raining, being on my own - apart from my dog, bad news in the newspapers, plight of refugees, days when it more difficult to breathe and humidity.


What makes a good careworker?

Kindness, a sense of humour, going the extra mile, intuitive understanding, decent political views. Also being punctual and being considerate.


Careworkers for those living with COPD and other lung conditions not only have to work around metres of tubing and oxygen pumps but also the emotional impacts of the disease - like anxiety. Patience and intuition are key skills for COPD careworkers.


Related articles

What COPD actually feels like

Use of hand-held fans by Lung Foundation 

YouTube about fans -