asthma advice

As part of our series of interviews with allergy and asthma experts across the UK, we spoke with Ms. Delia Balan, an asthma nurse who gives asthma advice at Asthma UK. It is our hope that reading about allergy and asthma specialists, their work, and favoured treatments, and what they think about the future of allergy and asthma treatments will provide you with valuable insight into your own allergy and asthma treatment options.

Ms. Balan, how would you describe your work in the asthma field?

I am part of a small friendly team of asthma nurse specialists who provide independent confidential asthma advice and support to people with asthma, their families, friends and carers and also healthcare professionals. We receive queries about what asthma is and what causes it, triggers, symptoms, treatments and inhaler devices. We're also often asked about allergies, exercise, diet, housing location and many other concerns that people have about asthma. We offer a range of services including a Telephone Adviceline service, an interpreting service and we are able to receive Typetalk calls.

We also provide asthma advice by responding to letters, emails, media inquiries, provide clinical input into the Asthma magazine, fact files and other written materials. We attend many conferences raising awareness of Asthma UK and the needs of people with asthma. We do this by promoting our Adviceline service, the Asthma UK website, our written materials and by networking with other Health Professionals. We also provide training on asthma to schools, Health Professionals, people with asthma and their carers, Asian Melas, corporate events, and shows such as The Allergy Show.

What do you love about your job?

I enjoy keeping up to date with trends and research in asthma and most of all I value talking to people with asthma, listening to their needs and supporting them on how best to control their asthma symptoms now and in the future. I am part of a wonderful friendly team of asthma nurses who come from a variety of medical backgrounds and also have the full support of our two very experienced professional Clinical Leads. Asthma UK creates a great working environment and cares about their employees as well as striving to improve and meet the needs of people with asthma. Through our work, we enjoy the contact we have with people with asthma and know that the advice we give can make a huge difference to people's lives by helping them manage their asthma and empowering them to have better control of their condition and an improved quality of life.

Could you tell me a little bit about your background and why you decided to become a specialist in providing asthma advice?

I spent a number of memorable years working in the NHS as a ward sister on a medical ward treating and caring for many patients with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Then having a daughter with asthma got me more interested in the work of Asthma UK and I decided to train as an Asthma Nurse Specialist and applied to work on The Adviceline and I have never looked back.

If you could suggest one thing for your patients with asthma what would it be?

I would recommend that they carry their blue reliever inhaler with them wherever they go, take their preventer inhaler regularly and make sure that they have their asthma under control.

Where do you see asthma treatment and management going in the future?

It would be great to see better standards of care and treatment for all people with asthma, this includes much better education provided by GPs and asthma nurses to people with asthma at the point of diagnosis and ensure that every person with asthma has a Personal Asthma Action Plan and has an annual review of their asthma. We hope the Government and The Department of Health will consider extending free prescriptions to all people with asthma.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I would like to see every school with an asthma policy and that all teachers and school staff are trained and know how to treat every student or pupil with asthma in their school should they have an asthma attack.

Great - thank you very much for your time, Ms. Balan.