Empowering patients by showing them they’re not alone

2 minute read

Empowering patients by showing them they’re not alone

< 1 minute read

St. Rose offers support groups for patients to learn from and motivate each other after discharge.

The Issue

Many of our high risk patients have COPD and need a lot of education post-discharge on how to perform everyday activities with their breathing challenges. With this education, they were often readmitted because they couldn’t control their breathing. We didn’t have a rehab program or any formal education for them post-discharge, so it was hard to help them progress. We also didn’t have the resources to develop a program.


St. Rose is a non-profit hospital in Hayward, CA. It has 217 beds and serves a diverse, low-income population including Spanish, Hindi, and Tagalog speakers. Their transitions program began in 2012 and is influenced by Project RED.

What We Tried

We partnered with the American Lung Association to put together a Better Breathers class. A trained respiratory therapist runs the class and there are usually 8-12 people at each one. The respiratory therapist discusses with the patients about their medication, breathing treatments, lifestyle changes, and how to use their inhalers. It’s very intimate and interactive—not just the instructor talking at them.

The class is optional and happens every month, so our older patients can plan ahead and add it to their calendars. For patients who have said they will come, the respiratory therapist calls them to remind them that the class is coming up.


The class has been running for two years and the patients love it. One of the biggest benefits for them is meeting other people with similar problems talking about how to get better. They realize they’re not alone and get motivated by seeing other people’s progress. The personal nature of the classes also makes a direct difference in people’s lives. One woman couldn’t leave her house alone because she couldn’t climb the three steps to get back into her home in front of her doorway. The respiratory therapist worked with her on that specific problem and now she’s so happy to have the freedom to come and go as she pleases.

Additional Benefits

An unexpected benefit of the classes is that we’ve been able to get family members and caregivers more involved. They often come to the classes with their loved ones and the instructor will tell them what they can do to help. One daughter never realized how serious her mom’s condition was, but after the class was much more understanding and supportive of her mom.


Contact the American Lung Association. They are very helpful and can help get your organization’s class up and running.

Patient and Family Challenges: Empowering Patients

Topics: After-hospital care, Patient engagement

Organizational Background

Organization Name: St. Rose Hospital

Location: St Rose Hospital, Calaroga Avenue, Hayward, CA, United States

Organization Type: Hospital