English National Opera is developing a breathing and wellbeing programme for coronavirus patients

The English National Opera (ENO) has joined with medical experts at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to devleop a singing, breathing and wellbeing programme for coronavirus recovery patients called ENO Breathe.

Thousands of patients affected by the COVID-19 virus in the UK have required medical ventilation. The longer-term effects of those people surviving such invasive intervention are being studied. Coronavirus survivors, particularly those that required mechanical ventilation, are experiencing a variety of medium and long-term difficulties – including breathlessness, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and anxiety.

ENO Baylis (the research and outreach arm of ENO) is helping develop the first programme of its kind being specifically for patients recovering from COVID-19, bringing together medical and musical expertise to create an integrated rehabilitation programme.

This project will take place in three phases:

Phase 1 – ENO Breathe Pilot Project (early September 2020)

Working closely with staff at Imperial College Healthcare, an ENO Baylis Vocal Specialist will deliver a bespoke programme of virtual learning workshops, designed exclusively for patients referred onto the programme by the Trust. It will run over six weeks for up to 40 patients recovering from coronavirus.

Patients will learn techniques to help them focus constructively on their breathing, using lullabies expressly designed to calm, in a combined approach to train the mind to work with the body mirroring techniques used by opera singers.

Phase 2 – ENO Breathe National Programme

Pending the outcome and results of the pilot programme, ENO will aim to work with Imperial College Healthcare and other NHS Trusts around the UK to develop ENO Breathe as a national programme.

Phase 3 – Online learning course, available worldwide

In conjunction with Phase 2 and pending pilot outcomes, ENO will create a self-guided online learning course led that would be available worldwide to help coronavirus survivors in their recovery.

The pilot programme will cost £12,000 and fund will be gathered through fundraising and donations.

The programme is an example of 'social prescribing' - non-medical interventions with patients that can have a transformative effect on mental and physical health, often reducing the need for medication or valuable medical resources.

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