Doctors champion new ‘Singing for Breathing’ workshop for residents in Uxbridge

A singing for breathing group workshopPeople in Uxbridge who suffer the misery of breathing problems are invited to discover a tuneful way to tackle their health issues – by singing.

This unorthodox approach to conditions such as asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is part of the Singing For Breathing initiative, pioneered by Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

In 2008, the Trust’s Singing For Breathing project was one of only two nationally. Today, thanks to a British Lung Foundation training programme, there are now more than 70 Singing For Lung Health classes.

Singing as a therapy has been shown to alleviate social isolation, as well as reducing breathlessness and strengthening the voice.

The new group, which meets at Bailey Hall, Christ Church, Uxbridge, marks ten years of using singing as a therapy and follows the success of a similar workshop in Harefield.

Elisa Jeffery, a professional singer who leads the Uxbridge group said: “We begin sessions with exercises you can use to help you manage your breathing. We then sing songs that are great fun, but they will also challenge your breathing.

“Participants tell me they have reduced their use of asthma pumps and found mobility easier as they have better breath control due to attending the sessions.”

One Singing For Breathing regular, Valerie Mellor, said: “ Singing is really the only thing that helps me - much better than inhalers - though I do use them as directed.”

Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, consultant respiratory physician at Royal Brompton, said: “We are always looking for ways to improve the care we give to our patients, which is why we started the singing classes for patients with respiratory problems. As well as working on posture, singing is a way for people to learn to control their breathing in a positive way.”

The initiative is funded by the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity and run by the hospitals’ arts team.

Karen Taylor, head of arts, said: “Over the last 10 years, the programme has helped people live better with their conditions. It’s been an incredible journey. Some attendees have been attending since we started and wouldn’t miss a session for the world.”

The Uxbridge workshop is held at Bailey Hall, Christ Church, Redford Way, Belmont Road, Uxbridge, UB8 1SZ from 2-3pm every Monday (except bank holidays).

Anyone with cardiothoracic diseases and/or experiencing breathlessness can attend: simply turn up to take part! Classes are run on a donation basis: a minimum payment of £5 per session will help the team continue the workshops.