Monash program offering at home care for patients with lung and respiratory conditions

Monash University

One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is managing patients with lung conditions (non-COVID and COVID patients) while they remain in home isolation.

A home-based program developed by Monash University researcher, Professor Anne Holland, is gaining global attention because it is designed to assist clinicians with developing at-home rehabilitation programs for people with respiratory illness.

“These patients are highly compromised and at risk of developing a serious form of COVID-19 if exposed to the virus, so it is imperative they remain in isolation where possible,” Professor Holland said.

A recent clinical trial involving two groups (166 participants in total) were compared straight after the standard 8-week outpatient rehabilitation model for people with lung disease (normally twice weekly trips to the hospital) and again 12 months after the trial completion. The study found that the home base rehabilitation was just as effective as the outpatient model, with patient success measured by their ability to walk for six minutes unaided.

The online program allows for a specialist clinician to meet a patient’s unique rehabilitation needs and involves one at-home visit, followed by weekly tele-health meetings, a self management program of exercise, diet and mental health with their condition monitored remotely.

“As we prepare for a massive influx of patients recovering from COVID-19, many of them with lung issues, and ideally minimising any unnecessary hospital visits or face-to-face contact with a doctor, there has never been a more important time to ensure patients have access and the option to choose an online program” Professor Holland said.

One of Professor Holland’s patients, 84-year-old David Muir, from Melbourne, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was rushed to The Alfred hospital with severe pneumonia after months of trying to fight off the flu. He was in hospital for over a week before his infection was under control and he could breathe comfortably without an oxygen supply.

Determined to recover fully, David devoted himself to the rehab program and prided himself on completing the daily challenges, pushing himself harder as his health improved.

“The home-based program, with individual follow-up calls each week, works well for me. The habit of doing these exercises has stuck with me. I hope to keep me and my lungs as fit as can be,” he said.

/Public Release.