New “Cocooning with COPD” Information Pack

By Eoin Meegan

A new “Cocooning with COPD” information pack with tips and advice for protecting physical and mental well-being for people with COPD has been announced by COPD Support Ireland.
People with COPD are one of the vulnerable groups more at risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19 and are estimated to number half a million people in Ireland.
The pack contains the COPD and Me self-management booklet, the Staying Well – Cocooning from Coronavirus booklet, and a COPD communication card which patients can complete with their healthcare professional in making an action plan to help them manage their COPD on a daily basis.
It features information on COPD, its risk factors, symptoms and diagnosis, as well as providing techniques to cope with breathlessness, exercises that people can do at home, tips for minding mental health, and guidance on nutrition. The pack has been developed in conjunction with the HSE National Clinical Programme Respiratory and the COPD Adviceline.
The pack is available to download at or can be ordered for postal delivery free of charge by texting the word “COPD”, plus name and address to 51444 (standard network charges apply).

Information Pack Aims to Address “Digital Isolation”
Joan Johnston, National Co-ordinator, COPD Support Ireland, believes that the pack means that people with COPD don’t have to worry about being digitally isolated as well as being socially isolated during this pandemic:
“We know that for many people with COPD that not only are they socially isolated at the moment, but they are also digitally isolated to a large degree. They may not have access to the internet and, even if they do, they may not know how best to go about using it.”
The ‘Cocooning with COPD’ pack aims to bridge that gap by providing people with information in to their hands that they can flick through for advice as to how to best maintain their physical and mental health.
“I would encourage people if they know of someone with COPD in their neighbourhood to reach out and see if they could benefit from some additional support at this time. A phone call to ask them how they are doing in terms of managing their symptoms and to ask whether they might need to see a doctor, or to pick up some prescription items for their rescue pack, could make a huge difference to them. I would also urge people with COPD to pay close attention to their own signs and symptoms. They will know if they are having a flare-up of COPD and, if concerned, they should seek medical advice without delay so that they can be monitored. The COPD Adviceline is available on Freefone 1800 83 21 46 where people can speak to a specialist respiratory nurse if they need additional support.”

Biggest Cause of A&E Admission
COPD is perhaps more familiar to people as emphysema or bronchitis. While there is no cure for this lung condition, it is treatable and can be managed to give the best possible quality of life.
The most obvious symptoms are a persistent cough with or without phlegm, and difficulty in breathing. While smoking is the predominant risk factor, recent research has shown that family history, chronic asthma, air pollution and occupational exposure to harmful fumes, dust or gases, also play a significant role.
There are approximately 500,000 people in Ireland living with COPD yet, worryingly, only half of these have been formally diagnosed. According to the most recent statistics, there were 11,341 people hospitalised from Dublin as a result of COPD between 2016 and 2018. Indeed, COPD is the most common disease-specific cause of emergency hospital admission among adults, with Ireland having the highest hospitalisation rate for COPD of all OECD countries in 2015, the last year for which international data is available.
Top Seven Tips – Living with COPD in a time of COVID

  1. Prevent infection. Keep all your equipment such as nebulisers clean by wiping down or washing after use. Wash your own hands with soapy water before and after use. You should also keep your distance from other household members when using a CPAP or non-invasive ventilator as these are considered aerosol-generating devices. Remember to stay at home, wash your hands and don’t touch your face.
  2. Check your supplies. Make sure you have one month’s supply of your medicines so that you won’t run out unexpectedly. If you have a back-up prescription for steroids and antibiotics – a “rescue pack” – ensure that you have your supply of these and that they are in date. Many pharmacies are now offering a delivery service.
  3. Breathe. Now is the time to really get into a routine of doing the controlled breathing exercises and chest clearance techniques you have been taught to help get rid of phlegm. They will help with relaxation too!
  4. Exercise. While you may be cocooning and advised to stay at home, you can still engage in physical activity which is so important to help improve breathlessness. The more you do, the more you will be able to do. Go out for a breath of fresh air in your back yard, garden or balcony or, if that’s not possible, why not do sit-to-stands, or march on the spot in the comfort of your own sitting room? Check out COPD & Me for a variety of exercises that you can do or tune into Ray & Ó Sé Fitness 15 for some exercise tips on RTÉ One at 2.20pm each weekday.
  5. Eat well. Try to maintain a well-balanced diet, eating little and often rather than having big meals. Eating the right food can provide the energy your body needs to breathe and build a strong immune system to help prevent and fight infections. If you need help with your shopping being delivered, get in touch with your local authority which can help. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids too.
  6. Don’t delay seeking help. If you have a flare-up of your usual COPD symptoms, have other symptoms that concern you, or have a “new” cough or fever, contact your GP immediately.
  7. Mind your mind. Stress and anxiety are a common feature of living with COPD and likely to be even more so at this time. Take care of your emotional health and talk to family and friends, or your fellow COPD support group members, over the phone or online. Try your best to keep up a routine and use social media in moderation. Check out the mental health supports and services available at

COPD Support Ireland is the national umbrella body for COPD support groups nationwide and works to raise awareness of the condition, to advocate on behalf of patients and their families, to enable peer support and self-management, and to support research and educational initiatives.
People who have questions about how best to manage COPD, and who wish to speak to a specialist respiratory nurse for information and advice, can telephone the national COPD Adviceline on Freefone 1800 83 21 46. This is a call-back service and an appointment will be made for a nurse to return the call at a time to suit you. The line is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm.
The “Cocooning with COPD” information campaign has been kindly supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland and A. Menarini Pharmaceuticals.
For more information on COPD and COPD Support Ireland, visit