People living with COPD in Wicklow benefit from new HSE supports


Patients can now be referred by GP to integrated respiratory service locally – a more flexible and efficient service.

To mark World COPD Day which took place on 15th November, the HSE highlighted new supports and developments in care for people living in Wicklow with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is a common, preventable and treatable disease that is characterised by ongoing breathing difficulties, usually caused by significant exposure to noxious particles or gases. Major risk factors for developing COPD are tobacco smoking or exposure to occupational, outdoor and indoor air pollution.

GPs can now refer people with COPD, or asthma, to a specialist integrated respiratory team within an Integrated Care Hub situated in the community. This team provides diagnostic tests, including direct GP access to spirometry, and supports the management of the condition through a suite of interventions including pulmonary rehabilitation.

More complex cases referred this way can also be seen within the acute hospital affiliated with the integrated care hub. A Respiratory Integrated Care Consultant provides a continuum of care between the integrated care hub and the acute hospital. This means that people with COPD receive the ‘Right Care’ in the ‘Right Place’ at the ‘Right Time’ and they can be seen earlier. It is actively reducing waiting times and is shifting care away from acute hospitals.

Under the Integrated Care Programme from Chronic Disease Management, a specialist group of respiratory physiotherapists are delivering Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programmes in Co. Wicklow. This involves a six-week programme of exercise, education and self-management tips for those with a confirmed COPD / Asthma diagnosis and exertional breathlessness. Patients can be referred to this programme by their Consultant or GP.

Martina Queally, Chief Officer, HSE Community Healthcare East, comments: “There has been significant progress in providing care and support for people with COPD facilitating them to access specialist care provided by the Integrated Respiratory Teams in a community setting, away from our acute hospitals, and closer to where they live. Respiratory integrated care consultants provide a continuum of care between the integrated care hubs and their affiliated acute hospitals. Specialist multidisciplinary respiratory teams are already in place in our integrated care hubs across the country supporting people to self-manage their condition and providing specialist respiratory care. This new care pathway is delivering a more flexible and efficient service, that is responsive to the needs of our COPD patients.”

Niamh McAlinden, Head of Service Primary Care, HSE Community Healthcare East, addsOur respiratory physiotherapy service has made great progress this year and grown to a team of four. 94 clients have completed Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programmes (PRP) in Bray, Wicklow Town, Arklow and Rathdrum, and 31 are currently enrolled in programmes across Co. Wicklow. We have also expanded our respiratory outpatient service and assessed and treated 73 clients this year.”

“Our Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programme is just one of a range of services available in the community to support people with COPD. Other services include Smoking Cessation clinics, Respiratory Physiotherapy Assessments, the Living Well Programme for Adults with Long-term Health Conditions and COPD Peer Support Groups. There is evidence that without ongoing support, people’s knowledge, skills and confidence to self-manage decline over time. Peer Support groups can play an important role in giving this support and providing education through regular talks from local healthcare professionals. Our COPD Support Groups have benefitted from specialist talks from local clinicians on topics such as Self-management, Managing Flare Ups, Inhaler Techniques and Exercise.” 

COPD Peer Support Groups support and provide information to people living with or caring for those who live with COPD. The groups usually involve exercise classes designed by COPD Support Ireland to meet the needs of people living with this condition. The groups are also an opportunity for people to share their experiences of living with COPD and the members support each other and make friends. COPD Support Groups in Community Healthcare East are currently being run in Balally, Co. Dublin and in Bray and Wicklow and they meet once or twice a week for an hour to exercise, socialise and give support. To find out more about the groups, contact COPD SI on To join a group, people must become members of COPD Support Ireland. Membership is free and the membership form can be found here:

The Living Well Programme for Adults with Long-term Health Conditions is a free group self-management programme for adults 18 years and over. This programme supports people to develop the practical skills and confidence to self-manage their condition and live well. The Living Well Programme runs for six weeks with workshops delivered in person and online across Community Healthcare East.  For more information go to or phone 087 405 3880 or email

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