Clinical Features

Asthma Society of Ireland Our Year in Review

Written by Ruth Morrow, Respiratory Nurse Specialist, Asthma Society of Ireland

Our vision in the Asthma Society of Ireland is that everyone with asthma lives a full life, symptom free. Our mission is to reduce asthma deaths and transform the lives of people with asthma. In 2023, our 50th year, we continue to support people with asthma, parents, carers, health care professionals, teachers and special needs assistants. We learn together and collaborate with healthcare, research and educational professionals to improve our understanding of how asthma works and how to combat it. The Asthma Society contributes at every level of health care – GP, integrated care, secondary and tertiary care working closely with the National Clinical Programme Respiratory (NCPR).

Although the pandemic is over, COVID19 continues to remain a challenge along with influenza and RSV for people living with chronic respiratory conditions including asthma. The impact of this is reported to us daily on our two patient support services WhatsApp nurse messaging and Adviceline service. Other issues highlighted through these services are, the cost of living crisis, inflation and difficulties accessing a GP. Patients might not attend the GP or buy their asthma medications due to financial constraints. The energy and cost of living crisis also impacts on our patients with chronic respiratory disease who require oxygen or nebulized medication. These issues result in increased morbidity and the need to use health services.

Patient Services

Our patient services consist of Asthma/COPD Adviceline, and the WhatsApp nurse messaging service part of which is the webinar series. We also support Healthcare professionals with resources in the form of written and electronic resources. In addition the website is very often the first port of call for clients seeking information on their condition.

WhatsApp Nurse messaging Service: 086 059 0132

This nurse-led service allows patients with asthma and/or COPD, their family and carers, to confidentially message a respiratory nurse about all aspects of their disease management, get signposted to key respiratory health management tools, further understand their disease and to be referred onwards. Service learnings indicate that once-off usage of the WhatsApp messaging service is effective but builds in impact when patients return and use it repeatedly. In the first 3 quarters of 2023 the WhatsApp service conducted over 3000 interventions for 315 clients.


Webinars are held regularly to support self-management and provide education to patients, carers and healthcare professionals. Expert speakers present on topical subjects alongside an ASI respiratory nurse followed by a Q&A session. Subjects this year included: Living well with asthma and COPD, Seasonal Allergies and Asthma, Asthma Care for All, Asthma and Anxiety, Back2School for parents, carers, teachers and SNAs and Winter Wellness. Between 200 and 300 people registered for each webinar and on average 130 attended. People can avail of recordings to watch back on our website .Post webinar surveys show improvement in knowledge and 100% of registrants say they would recommend our WhatsApp/ Adviceline service to a family member, friend or colleague.

Asthma Adviceline: 1800 44 54 64

The aim of the Adviceline is to provide education, selfmanagement skills and healthcare signposting by providing upto-date, expert information and advice. It is a free call back service available to people with asthma and their carers. Clients can book a 30 minute consultation with an asthma nurse and will be followed up with further calls as needed. The asthma Adviceline has been in existence for many years with numbers using it increasing every year.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Adviceline: 1800 83 21 46

The COPD Adviceline is provided in collaboration with COPD Support Ireland and the HSE. It is a free callback service for people who want to learn more about COPD. It can help support people to better understand their symptoms and manage their condition. Patients are linked into COPDSI services and support groups. This service is available to all people with COPD, family members and carers of people with COPD as well as healthcare professionals who support people with COPD

The Asthma Society celebrates 50 years

In this, our 50th year we aim to celebrate achievements and milestones. We hope to raise awareness of the Asthma Society and create a platform for relationship building with stakeholders. Along with this the Asthma Society wants to generate recognition of its value in addition to recognizing those who have contributed to our achievements. Most importantly this is a time to think about the future and the Society’s role and purpose. A celebration takes place at the end of November with invited political representatives, corporate partners, health care professionals, board members, government bodies, and our asthma ambassadors. This event will bring recognition through attending media and social media contacts. An exciting agenda hosted by Matt Cooper includes the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Ronan O Gara Irish former rugby union player. The agenda also includes fundraising and award giving Asthma Awareness Week

Asthma Awareness Week took place during the first week of May. As part of this, the Asthma Society conducted a survey amongst 1,294 men and women aged 18+ living with asthma. This survey revealed the concerning decisions people with asthma and their loved ones have been forced to make during the cost-of-living crisis. Despite 96% of those surveyed being prescribed asthma medications, 45% have had to forego them in the prior three months due to financial constraints. Other findings showed:

• 48% of households with asthma have been in arrears on mortgage or rental payments; utility bills; hire purchase instalments or other loan payments in the past 12 months.

• 76% also said that their own or their child’s daily activity was limited or severely limited by the disease.

• 25% of survey participants described their asthma as bad or very bad.

• A virtual conference entitled Asthma Care for All was hosted and featured people living with asthma describing their own experiences of being treated for asthma and the difference the Asthma Society has made to their lives.

Hayfever Campaign

This year the Asthma Society conducted a very successful Hayfever campaign. The launch coincided with Asthma Awareness Week and included a very highly attended webinar on Asthma and Allergic Rhinitis. Every opportunity was taken to promote the pollen tracker available on our website and to share expert advice on managing this condition. A top tips release with practical tips was shared with key broadcast, print and online media. Numerous national and regional interviews took place with Respiratory Nurse Specialist Ruth Morrow and Prof Marcus Butler as well as sharing the personal stories of patients with asthma who experience severe hayfever symptoms. The campaign continued throughout the summer months.

Asthma Safe School Programme

The aim of this program is to train one teacher per school in PHECC (Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council) approved and certified basic life support and administration of Salbutamol for emergency treatment of adults and children with an acute asthma attack. This year funding was available from CHO 3, 7 and 9. A total of 83 applications were received across the three CHO areas.

This program enables school staff to identify what to do in the case of an acute asthma attack, to encourage schools to provide a supportive environment for students with asthma, to create better public awareness of the 5 Step Rule and how to recognize and manage an asthma attack. Part of the programme included an Asthma Safe School webinar, free for all principals, teachers and SNAs in May 2023 that was viewed by 172 people.

A post program survey showed 97.37% said they were aware of the 5 step rule and almost 90% agreed that they had been provided with the training and tools to provide a supportive and safe environment for pupils in school. One participant noted “Excellent information and should be rolled out nationally”

Pre Budget Submission

The 2024 pre-budget submission released at the end of September had seven budgetary asks focused on preventing asthma deaths in Ireland, improving quality of life for 380,000 people in Ireland with asthma, and reducing the cost of asthma to both the state and the individual.

The Asthma Society’s Seven PreBudget asks include:

• Universal Subsidisation of Asthma Medications

• Invest in severe asthma medication

• Extend the current Asthma Management Programme to all people with asthma

• Increase Capacity in our Healthcare System: Recruit Respiratory Specialists

• Improve Air Quality in our Homes and Communities

• Disincentivise smoking and e-cigarettes through taxation

• Restore pay parity within the Community and Voluntary Sector

Take A Breath Fundraising Campaign

This campaign is in its second year and is our flagship fundraising event. The Asthma Society depends hugely on fundraised income to achieve our goals of everyone with asthma living a full life, symptom-free and reducing asthma deaths. The ‘Take a Breath’ campaign carried out in September invited participants to compete as a group or as an individual to hike/walk to raise funds for the Asthma Society. This was highlighted and promoted through the member’s newsletter, collaboration with influencers and through our social media channels. The Asthma Society is enormously grateful for the participation particularly of our asthma ambassadors. Thanks to all involved we met our fundraising targets this year. We hope to build on this and exceed the targets for next year.


This year the Asthma Society has celebrated 50 years. Although this was an opportunity to look back, the Asthma Society is concentrating on the future. We hope to reach out further to those who need our services and build relationships with stakeholders. Along with patient services the Asthma Society will build on its advocacy and research work to meet the needs of people with asthma. We also look forward to implementing the fundraising strategy that will provide the resources to expand and grow to serve the 380,000 people living with asthma in Ireland.


The author would like to acknowledge the help of Mary McDonald, Patient Services Manager and Caroline Reilly, Patient Services Coordinator for their assistance with this article.

Read the full magazine: December HPN

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