UL lecturer receives funding for a project to benefit people with COPD

University of Limerick Lecturer Dr Roisin Cahalan has received funding for a project that will benefit people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, refers to a group of diseases that cause airflow blockages and breathing-related problems.

Dr Cahalan has been awarded €271,877 for her project ‘COPD-MAX: Community-based Optimisation Programme for respiratory disease Management and Assessment’.

“Ultimately, this research strives to optimise COPD patient wellness whilst alleviating demand on overstretched acute service providers,” said Dr Cahalan.

COPD affects approximately 340,000 people in Ireland. Currently, Ireland has the highest number of COPD in-hospital bed days in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD brings together 38 member countries and collaborates on a range of key global issues at national, regional and local levels.

The goal of the project is to prioritise the minimisation of hospital admissions from COPD.

Dr Roisin Cahalan, of UL’s School of Allied Health, was successful in the highly competitive Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) funding scheme.

The funding scheme, which is a partnership between the HSE, HRB and RCPI, involves collaboration between researchers and relevant knowledge users.

The selection process for the funding scheme was highly competitive and Dr Cahalan’s project was selected from 31 eligible applicants.

Applicants were invited to use a Quality Improvement approach to design new models of health and social care based on needs arising from direct or indirect impacts of COVID-19 in Ireland.

The Chief Executive at the Health Research Board (HRB), Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, said: “This scheme delivers research in response to clear needs in quality and patient safety as identified by people working at the coal face. I believe there will be big improvements to the lives of COPD patients and trauma-informed care resulting from these two newly funded projects.”

“The HRB is delighted to collaborate with the Health Service Executive National Quality and Patient Safety Directorate (HSE NQPSD) and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on this important initiative,” she added.

What are the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Symptoms of COPD include:
• Frequent coughing or wheezing
• Excess phlegm
• Shortness of breath
• Trouble taking a deep breath

Dr Terry McWade, CEO of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, has welcomed the vital research funds and emphasised the need for such research on the effects COVID-19 have had on patients and staff within the Irish healthcare system.

“We are proud to be part of the RCQPS and the vital research it funds. COVID-19 has required health and social care systems to rapidly adapt and establish new processes and procedures for patients and staff,” he said.

These projects provide huge opportunity to learn from these adaptations and improve quality and patient safety beyond the pandemic.”

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