Peer support groups can help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) manage their disease, maintain a healthy lifestyle, navigate mental health concerns, and more. The COPD National Action Plan calls for expanding access to online support communities as one way to empower COPD patients and caregivers. Learn More Breathe Better® spoke with Stephanie Williams, Vice President of Professional and Public Education at the COPD Foundation, about its COPD360social online support community.
The COPD Foundation hosts COPD360social, an interactive online community for patients, their families and caregivers, and healthcare professionals. How do users benefit from this online platform?
COPD360social is a place for those affected by COPD to come together and find a sense of belonging, access reliable information, and ask questions that can help them navigate their health journey. Not just for those living with COPD, it is a place where caregivers and family members can also come to gain insight, helpful tips, and answers that can help them in their support role. COPD360social is a place where people can be as anonymous as they care to be, which gives them freedom to ask the questions they may be too nervous to ask their doctor. The COPD360social community is quite welcoming and wants everyone who visits to feel they can stop by any time.
Why are virtual support groups for COPD patients important?
Support groups are wonderful resources for people living with chronic conditions, and we hope that people will take advantage of in-person support groups if they have them in their area. The problem is that in-person support groups are few and far between. If support groups are available, people may have difficulty with transportation or even walking the distance from the parking lot to the group meeting room. That’s where the COPD Foundation’s virtual support groups come in. These virtual groups are free and open to the public and provide quality education from licensed healthcare professionals. The COPD Foundation offers virtual support groups for those using supplemental oxygen and for those living with COPD and bronchiectasis/NTM (nontuberculous mycobacteria) lung disease. We invite people to check these out and join us each month.
What types of activities does the COPD Foundation have planned for National COPD Awareness Month?
The COPD Foundation will celebrate National COPD Awareness Month by launching a comprehensive campaign aimed at raising awareness and supporting individuals affected by COPD. Throughout the month of November, the Foundation will host educational webinars, virtual support groups, and events to promote understanding of the impact chronic lung disease has on millions worldwide. We will collaborate with healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers to provide resources, share personal stories, and emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and management. Our digital media outreach will include a social media toolkit and a Twitterstorm for COPD Awareness Month.
The COPD Foundation is a member of the Breathe Better Network, Learn More Breathe Better’s partnership of organizations across the country working to improve lung health. What are some of the benefits your organization values as a partner in the Network?
The COPD Foundation values the relationship with the Breathe Better Network because it helps us stay connected with other groups and organizations who are working to improve the quality of life of those living with COPD and other lung diseases. We can encourage each other to always push forward and find ways to engage, educate, and empower those who we are here to represent – the COPD community.