The ENO are working with patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading to help them with breathing control

Author: Jonathan RichardsPublished 13 hours ago
Last updated 13 hours ago

Doctors at Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital have teamed up with professionals from the English National Opera (ENO) to help patients suffering from symptoms of Long Covid.

In a pioneering musical and medical venture, singers and therapists from the ENO are running online coaching sessions with patients being cared for by the hospital’s Long Covid Clinic.

The holistic online programme offers self-management tools for patients experiencing breathlessness and the anxiety this can produce.

During the weekly group sessions patients are given the tools and techniques used by singers to help them focus constructively on their breathing and teaches them to retrain their breathing through singing. Lullabies are used as the musical starting point as they cross boundaries of culture, are accessible to all and their very purpose is to calm.

Patients are then equipped with exercises to practice these techniques in their own time, aided by the online resources tailor-made to support their progress.

Following the six week trial last year, the programme is being rolled out to 1,000 patients across the country and in the RBH it’s being led by Dr Deepak Ravindran, Lead Clinician for Berkshire Long covid Integrated Service. He oversaw the setting up of the long covid clinic at the RBH last November, making it one of the first hospitals in the country to establish such a venture.

Latest figures show more than 500 referrals with over 150 patients seen at the clinic. Over 80% of patients have breathlessness and more than 90% have fatigue, brain fog and pain.

Speaking about the partnership with the ENO, Dr Ravindran said:

“The success of the ENO pilot last year is showing good results and proving that breathing through singing can help those suffering with breathlessness. The programme provides vital physical and emotional support to those experiencing the effects of long Covid and it’s great to see the highly trained professionals at the ENO working with the NHS on such creative measures to help people with this illness.”

To date, people taking part in a pilot programme last year, have reported definite improvements in symptoms and wellbeing with 90 per cent saying it helped their breathlessness and 91 per cent saying their levels of anxiety had dropped. Participants also said the group aspect of the programme was a positive part of the experience and lessened feelings of isolation brought on by their illness.

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