Asthma Society of Ireland: End of Year

Talking Strategy in Asthma Care – Written by Sarah O’Connor, CEO, Asthma Society of Ireland

HPN December 2021 Digital – page 24

In December 2019, the Asthma Society had an operational plan agreed for the year 2020.

It was an excellent plan. Although it didn’t happen.

Things started as per our strategic direction. Our General Election and Programme for Government work in January and February opened doors for important structural asthma management
discussions. Our February SafetyCare campaign about SABA over-reliance (subsequently award-winning) made front page news, making our services very busy. So far, so good. And March 2020 was, as we know, when it all changed. There was an urgency to the rest of the year for members of the Asthma Society team. We have always been a small team who
together delivered important results with a big impact. But in 2020 we continued to show up when having asthma as an “underlying condition” added huge anxiety for any patient. As a result of COVID-19, they had decreased access to healthcare.

In our survey in April 2020 (2400+ respondents), we asked patients (or carers) about their greatest concern.

We got answers like:

“Fear of me or my asthmatic child getting the virus. The terror of being separated from him if he had to go to hospital.”

“Not being considered for an in demand ventilator due to asthma.”

“That I would be considered not worth saving.”

Evidence indicated that patients were not more likely to contract COVID-19 but were potentially more likely to experience severe symptoms. So we met both COVID-19 and asthma/COPD needs squarely. We worked hard to create centralised, healthcare professional approved, evidenceled patient information. Our own patient services team, our Medical Advisory Group and the HSE’s Clinical Programme for Asthma helped. We disseminated this approved respiratory-specific advice through every channel available to us. Such as leaflets, website, videos, campaigns, live broadcasts, graphics – and obviously, through our existing one-to-one patient support services.

Wave after wave of supports, changes, adaptations, funding applications, campaigns, engagements – we kept going, we kept helping. The team did phenomenal work, clever work, impactful work – every single one of them as individuals and collectively as a whole.

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