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Solent NHS Trust Children’s Asthma Nurse shares care advice for parents at a time of uncertainty

Ahead of World Asthma Day (5 May 2020) a Solent NHS Trust Children’s Asthma Nurse (CCAN) has given out valuable advice for parents and children who suffer with the condition at a time where they have been classified as some of the most vulnerable in our society. Asthma is amongst the most common long-term health conditions and it is estimated that 1 in 11 children are affected.

COVID-19 effects the lungs and can make breathing extremely difficult. Those who are suffering with severe Asthma and other respiratory conditions are being told to stay indoors in order to ‘shield’ themselves against the virus, however this does not mean that they cannot access the usual treatment they need in order to stay safe and well at home.

At Solent, the health and safety of our patients and staff is paramount, and our services are continuing to run, with teams now working differently to delivering care to their patients, through the help of digital innovations such as video consultations and telephone calls.

Alyson Pearce is a Children’s Community Asthma Nurse working in the Portsmouth area. The Solent Children’s Asthma service is a specialist team for children diagnosed as asthmatic. The team works with GPs, practice nurses and the hospital respiratory team to help keep children safe and well, and during these difficult times, are continuing to stay connected, delivering the best care and support to patients and their families.

“We are continuing to run our clinics, supporting our patients via telephone calls and video consultations. As you can expect, parents with vulnerable children are quite anxious at the moment and we are making sure we remain to be there for them. We are running a full service and I have spoken to each of my patients whilst working from home.

“Asthma care at its core is in fact, quite simple.  If you get the basics right, symptoms are generally manageable. The best thing patients can do is ensure they are taking their Asthma preventer medication every day as prescribed, to keep their Asthma as controlled as possible. Any cold or illness should be managed by following the child’s asthma plan and acting as you would have previously. If you are worried about your child you must seek medical attention via your GP, 111 service or check in with your Asthma nurse. These services are still open for business.

“One of the most common mistakes we see is children or teenagers who do not have a plan or are not following the recommendations made by their GP.  Another common error is inhaler technique.  For children, we recommend administering the metred dosage inhaler with a spacer. Using a spacer makes it easier to get the right amount of medicine straight to the lungs, where it's needed the most. If your technique is not right, it’s likely your child will not receive the right dose.

“Measures like checking peak flow can be useful to keep track of the condition in older children. Peak flow measures the air flowing out of your lungs and can show if your airways are narrowing. This can help you keep track and manage your child’s symptoms promptly.

“It is also important to have a regular asthma review with your GP if your child has symptoms in between colds, this can be done over the phone if needed. This allows them to evaluate any asthma medication and make changes as needed. Your GP can refer you to this service if you would like more support.

“I’m passionate about providing the best care for my patients and their families and hope that these simple steps will help both children and adults who are living with the condition at this uncertain and worrying time.”

Five simple steps to help manage your Asthma symptoms

  • Always take your prevention medication as prescribed
  • Always keep your reliever inhaler close (along with a spacer for children)
  • Check your or your child’s inhaler technique; are you administering the full dose?
  • Follow your Asthma plan and attend an asthma review with your GP or Children’s Community Asthma Nurse as soon as you can (you may be able to do this over the phone or via video consultation, so speak to your GP about this)
  • Seek help if your symptoms have not improved or you are having to use your blue (reliever) inhaler more than two times a week when well

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