Clearing the air with vital asthma education

Imagine suddenly feeling short of breath with a tightening sensation in your chest, and not knowing what to do.

Asthma or wheeze is the narrowing of air passages in the lungs, causing the lining to swell, air passage muscles to tighten and mucus to develop, restricting breathing. It can be a scary experience for children and their families, however it is an extremely common condition, with one in four children experiencing an episode during their childhood.

At The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), thousands of children present each year to the Emergency Department (ED) with symptoms, and many are admitted to Dolphin Ward, the RCH’s short stay unit. The effective management of the condition is critical to for a child’s wellbeing and to prevent serious episodes.

“Nurses in Dolphin Ward identified that families didn’t receive standardised asthma education between wards and between staff and they felt that had an impact on representation and readmission,” said Naomi Oborne, Clinical Support Nurse for Asthma Education.

Thanks to your generous support, a visual resource for asthma education has been created to empower families to understand and effectively manage their child’s condition.

The videos provide practical information on what asthma is, possible triggers, symptoms, and treatments including how to administer medication for different age groups.

Not only do they benefit the child and parents with consistent information, it is reducing the significant workload of nurses, who previously spent 20-40 minutes providing face-to-face education.

Since the inclusion of the videos as part of asthma discharge procedures, there has been a 25 per cent decrease in readmissions to Dolphin Ward.

Available on iPads for easy access in ED, Dolphin and Sugarglider Wards, parents can watch the videos at their own pace and afterwards ask nurses specific questions concerning their child. They are also accessible on the RCH Kids Health Info website and app, benefiting the community beyond the hospital walls.

“We are really proud that other hospitals including Monash and Epworth have requested links and pleasingly the peak national governing body, the National Asthma Council have linked the videos through their guidelines and use them as part of their education sessions.” said Naomi.

The project’s success is due to the collaborative efforts of the RCH General Medical team lead by Dr Lexi Frydenberg, Clare Polley and Dr Amy Gray from RCH Medical Education, and The University of Melbourne.