Canadian Lung Association Blog

Improving care for people living with COPD

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement supports healthcare partnerships to find innovative ways of improving patient care. This collaborative approach is a great example of how health system leaders can work together in ways that will lead to better care for Canadians struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Nineteen teams from healthcare organizations in all 10 provinces are participating in projects to improve care for people living with COPD and support their caregivers. The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., pledged $1 million to support the teams.

One of the teams that is being funded is from Saskatoon. It is led by Dr. Darcy Marciniuk and Dr. Donna Goodridge of the Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. This project builds on the long-term success of the Saskatoon Health Region LiveWell COPD Chronic Disease Management Program.

Many people living with COPD are admitted to hospital. Some of these hospital admissions could have been avoided, even for those people receiving good treatment for COPD. There are certain groups of people with COPD who have a higher risk of poor outcomes. This includes people who are on five or more prescription medications daily; people who have abused drugs or other substances; people with mental illnesses; and people whose disease is advanced toward the final stages.

The project will provide people living with COPD with dedicated support which will be built into the LiveWell COPD program. For example, access to a social worker can help high-risk people with COPD to better access resources in the community and avoid emergency treatment. This project will investigate how access to a social worker can improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of people living with COPD who have complex needs.

The project team will evaluate how much this program improves the lives of people living with COPD. They will look three areas: 1) how well the person with COPD functions mentally and interacts with others; 2) whether the person with COPD plays a more active role in the management of their disease; and 3) how satisfied the person with COPD and their family members are with the program.

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