Pat’s story

Pat, 64, from Birmingham, uses her personal health budget to make significant improvements to her health and wellbeing. To manage her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) she bought an exercise bike which she shares with other members of her COPD support group.

Breathlessness is the most severe COPD symptom I have. I cannot walk far. I just seize up and am unable to breathe properly. This can make me very anxious.

I have also had a heart attack, and have problems with my weight. Before receiving my personal health budget I was also struggling with depression which was related to the disabling effects COPD has on my life.

The only help I used to receive was when I went to my GP to discuss my medication, including inhalers. I also occasionally went to a professional-led pulmonary rehabilitation class for people with COPD. It was at this group that it was suggested I apply for a personal health budget.

Sandra, a COPD nurse, discussed my health needs with me and an assessment was carried out. Sandra also visited me at home when we talked about how I could manage my symptoms and improve my general health and mental health. With Sandra I drew up some health objectives. These included being able to walk to my local bus stop within the next 12 months, treating my depression, losing one stone within six months and increasing my confidence.

I was granted a personal health budget which was particularly used to buy an exercise bike and complementary therapies to help with my anxiety.

“My life has been turned around”

Doing regular exercise is vital to enable me to improve my health and confidence so I can walk to places. Exercise also prevents the symptoms of COPD from worsening. As well as using the bike myself I lend it to a patient-run pulmonary exercise/support group which I attend. It has around 12 members. We set this group up after the professional-led pulmonary rehabilitation class I used to attend had to close for financial reasons.

We use the bike together during our meetings so we can all benefit. We rent a room in a school and every so often we organise a physiotherapist to give us a talk. And we will socialise over a cup of tea and biscuits.

I have dry legs with bad circulation and the reflexology, which helps relieve my anxiety around my breathlessness, has also helped my circulation.

Sandra has been fantastic throughout the whole process of organising my personal health budget.

Before I met Sandra I did not have anyone to talk to about my depression. But Sandra was that person. She’s been unbelievable. The help and advice she gave has turned my life around. She realised I was depressed, and advised me to see a GP who prescribed medication. This has really helped.

I can now walk to my local bus stop, and my confidence is so much better. The next thing is for me to lose more weight. Overall, my physical and mental health has improved dramatically.

Sandra is Pat’s COPD nurse, and works for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust.

When I met Pat to undertake her personal health budget assessment I had real concerns about her low mood and how her COPD and breathlessness was adversely affecting her quality of life. She had a poor social life and only left her home twice per week to carry out essential tasks.

The personal health budget is managed by Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust. This arrangement works well for Pat.

The patient-run pulmonary exercise/support group has not only improved Pat’s health, it has become an activity through which she’s developed a good social network.

Importantly, provision of the exercise bike has enabled the support group to continue to function and has helped Pat and the whole group to manage their breathlessness better. Attending the exercise group has also helped her to lose some weight.

Before the personal health budget process began Pat said she was becoming more and more withdrawn and low in mood. The process allowed us to look beyond the normal services that are available and to decide together what could improve Pat’s quality of life and wellbeing. For example, the provision of reflexology to help her manage her depression and anxiety in conjunction with the support and medication she received from her GP was most beneficial.

Indeed, the whole personal health budget process has helped Pat. She is so much more confident about managing her disease and is less fearful about her breathlessness.  This has resulted in her being less anxious, exercising more and having a far better quality of life with increased social interactions. All in all, Pat is a different lady.