Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic condition affecting over 46,000 Western Australians. Living with and managing a chronic condition such as COPD can be challenging and often confusing for patients, particularly when additional treatment measures are needed when they become unwell. Often patients struggle to recognise the early signs that their COPD symptoms are worsening, and this can lead to a delay in treatment and severe flare-ups requiring hospitalisation. 

Severe flare-ups can lead to disease progression, so it is of paramount importance that adults living with COPD learn how to look after their lung health and act quickly when they notice their symptoms becoming worse.

Respiratory Care WA provides tailored self-management education sessions to help patients with COPD better understand what they need to do to live the best, healthy life possible. A lot of information is shared in these sessions and having easy-to-follow printed resources is extremely helpful for patients who are self-managing their condition.

Following feedback from patients, doctors and allied health workers who deliver services to COPD patients, Respiratory Care WA and the WA Country Health Service have developed two new resources for adults living with COPD.

These resources have been designed with consumers to ensure they are easy to read and understand particularly for those with low health literacy. To achieve this, we worked with a multidisciplinary team that included adults living with COPD, nurses and allied health professionals as well as user experience and design professionals to improve accessibility and readability. We’ve also worked closely with respiratory specialists to gather their expert insights.

The two resources are designed to complement one another and help guide patients to better understand their condition, what “well” looks like for them, what they can do to stay well, and when and how to take action when their symptoms start to deteriorate.


Home Action Plan for adults with COPD

The Home Action Plan helps patients understand what being well looks like for them and what actions to take should they start to have worsening symptoms. Patients who can recognise their symptoms on a typical day are more likely to act when symptoms worsen.

This document should be filled in with the patient’s healthcare team and includes a section for the GP to fill in with further treatment instructions for when the patient starts to become unwell. This may include having action plan medications at home such as oral steroids and antibiotics. The Home Action Plan also helps adults living with COPD to better identify when they should go to their nearest emergency department or call for an ambulance.

It is important for patients to have a good understanding of the instructions on the Home Action Plan and to share this information with their emergency contact.  The Home Action Plan should be reviewed with the patient’s healthcare team every year or after any changes in COPD medications or flare-ups.

Things you can do to keep well for adults with COPD

This is a companion resource to the Home Action Plan and offers more details on the key, evidence-based recommendations to keep well that appear on the Home Action Plan.  This document aims to empower patients to take an active role in managing their chronic condition by further guiding them on what they can do to keep well, and also guiding discussions with their healthcare team.

To download these items, simply click on their images above.

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