A group of patients with respiratory illnesses are breathing new understanding into the reality of living with their conditions through a unique photography exhibition which was recently launched in Ballyfermot Library by author Patricia Scanlon.
There are an estimated 310,000 people living with COPD in Ireland and many more with other respiratory illnesses including early TB. The Photovoice project was developed to give people with respiratory illness a voice and to create a space for patients to express, through images, their experience of living with these conditions. The participants hope the images will generate dialogue with healthcare professionals and the wider community about their lives and living with illness.
The photo project and exhibition involved a group of eleven patients who were attending St James’s Hospital respiratory clinics, community and hospital respiratory nurses, staff from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a community artist.
Speaking about the participants’ stories, Project team member, Dr Geralyn Hynes, Associate Professor in Palliative Care, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity said: “Living with respiratory conditions can be hard work. Physically, breathing problems and coughing can be exhausting. It becomes necessary to pace oneself or break down activities so as to conserve energy. Everyday activities become more difficult. Anxiety and depression are common. Breathlessness can be frightening and it is all too easy to become more socially isolated because of fear of triggering breathlessness from being out and about.”
“The stories that are captured in the exhibition are about resilience, hope and love rather than about illness and about ‘ordinary’ lives that are, of course, never ordinary. The project gave us a richer understanding of life and the importance of looking beyond the label of illness.” Dr Hynes said.
The project was funded by the Royal City of Dublin Hospital Trust.
The exhibition will run in Ballyfermot Library until the 28th of February. Admission is free.