March 22, 2021

Ward 18 a big fan of the Knitting Guild

Ward 18 was recently delighted to receive a generous donation from the Knitting Guild of four new bladeless Dyson fans to help patients experiencing breathlessness.

The Northern Health Respiratory Department has over 1,200 patients admitted each year and a significant proportion of those patients have chronic respiratory disease, with the main symptom they have in their acute illness is breathlessness.

Dr Katharine See, Director of Respiratory Medicine, explained how fans can help patients manage their breathlessness.

“While we are waiting for treatments for the underlying cause of their deterioration to resolve, we really need to try and control their symptoms so that they are, firstly, comfortable, but also to reduce the amount of time they spend in bed or sitting in a chair de-conditioning,” Katharine said.

There are drug treatments available for breathlessness but patients can sometimes feel quite anxious about using them – even in the safety of a hospital setting – so one of the most evidence-based, non-drug treatments for breathlessness is the use of fans.

“There’s evidence for both the big fans and also handheld fans, and they help with that feeling of air hunger. When patients have air moving around them, it generally reduces their feeling of breathlessness,” Katharine explained.

Pedestal fans with blades present an infection prevention risk as they are difficult to clean and dust can get caught in them, so bladeless fans are significantly more beneficial for patients.

“We are incredibly grateful for the donation of the bladeless fans which also have an air filter, so they are reducing dust particles in the air, as well as being really easy to clean, and reducing that infection prevention risk, whilst also really helping patients manage their breathlessness,” Katharine explained.

“The Knitting Guild donated four – they are very expensive, so without their generous donation, we just wouldn’t have been able to do that for our patients.”

Maureen Goodwin, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Consultant, does a lot of work with patients for management of their breathlessness. She says the new fans can also help reduce anxiety associated with experiencing breathlessness.

“The more breathless patients are, the more anxious they become, and so by having a fan blowing air on the face, it tricks the brain into thinking there’s plenty of air around and it naturally slows the breathing rate down. So the fans are a really natural way of controlling the breathing and reducing the anxiety and panic goes with that,” she explained.

“They also give patients a sense of control in managing their symptom, and that’s really empowering for patients. We have four fans and they are almost constantly in use, so there’s definitely demand for them,” Katharine added.

The Knitting Guild raise funds for Northern Health through their beautifully hand-made items that are available for sale in the Northern Health Foundation Office and Rainbow Shop at Northern Hospital.

Featured Image (left to right): Maureen Goodwin, Respiratory Nurse Consultant; Patient, Ronald; Carol Winter, Ward 18 Nurse Unit Manager; Katharine See, Director of Respiratory Medicine and Jenny Carlson from the Knitting Guild