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Q&A with Nikki Ackland – Lungs in Action Mt Gambier

In 2014 respiratory nurse Jill McKay, identified that there were no suitable exercise options in her local community of Mt Gambier to refer people to once they finished pulmonary rehabilitation. Upon hearing about Lungs in Action Jill identified a local fitness instructor by the name of Nikki Ackland as an eligible and interested candidate to complete LFA training that would provide her with the knowledge and skills to safely and successfully exercise the rehab graduates on an ongoing basis.

Now at its 2 year birthday, the Mt Gambier Lungs in Action continues to run successfully, and there is now a second location in the more rural town of Millicent, approximately  50 km away.

We recently spoke with Nikki about  her experience of running Lungs in Action in SA’s second most populated city, as well as running the program at the neighbouring rural town of Millicent.

1. How did you find out about Lungs in Action?
I had been working as a contractor conducting community exercise classes for Community Health when approached by the Chronic Disease Management Administration Officer, Jodie Glynn, and Respiratory Nurse, Jill McKay, to consider undertaking the training for a Lungs in Action instructor.
2. What relationship do you have with the local rehabilitation program?
I have met with the groups and physios involved when PR classes are run.
3. What role did they play, and continue to play in the ongoing support of your class?
The physio conducting the rehab program was my mentor initially for the course and since then they continue to refer clients on to the group.
4. How do you keep the referral relationship strong?
I meet with each group that goes through and introduce myself and explain about LIA and the benefits that can be achieved physically and socially.
5. How do most people find out about you LIA class? What marketing do you use, if any?
Most people find out about the group through PR or through the flyers that are sent out regularly with the class times. The respiratory nurses also advise people about the group and some referrals come from the GP.
6. What new opportunities has being a LIA Instructor provided you? 
It has certainly broadened my knowledge and I get to meet a diverse group of people.
7. What does it mean to you to be known as Lungs in Action instructor?
It feels like I am making a difference in people’s lives.
8. What is the point of difference that you bring to Lungs in Action every week?
I try to speak to each person individually that attends.
9. What do you see as the most important factor to making the class successful?
I try to keep it fun and inviting and I see the return in the commitment from the clients that attend.
10. How do classes differ between Mt Gambier – a larger rural city, and Millicent a smaller country town of 5,000 people?
Class sizes in Millicent are smaller and not as consistent attendance.
11. What are barriers you face running a LIA class in a smaller geographic location like Millicent?
There are less pulmonary rehab classes to feed into the group and the initial venue was a deterrent.
12. What strategies do you try and implement to ensure a small town class like Millicent is still available and meeting the needs of the patients?
The change to a different venue has helped and I liaise with the local respiratory nurse, Jodie Collins, and the Lung Support group. Flyers are also sent out to participants and former participants.
13. Do you have any interesting patient outcomes, feats and accomplishments worth noting?!
One of our clients has recently returned from overseas where she did a lot of walking. She had regularly been attending LIA prior to going and found that she managed quite well.
Another man had been attending our group and was fortunate to receive a lung transplant. He has progressed very well after surgery and credits that to maintaining his leg strength through attending LIA. Another client could never visit a family member because of the steps they had to climb up. They can now after attending LIA.
14. Do you ever hold special events as a group?
Usually at the end of the year we have a morning tea.
15. Do your LIA members get together outside of the class for social interaction?
Not sure if they do but everyone mixes really well in class and one group member will pick up another member to bring them to class.
16. Do your members know about the Lung Foundation, and what support is available for them? For example do they know what the LungNet News is? Do you ever the hard copy to class?
Yes some do know about the Foundation and I usually bring the latest copy to class.

Thank you Nikki for your time, and best of luck in your ongoing journey as Lungs in Action Instructor.

Above Nikki Ackland proudly sporting her Lungs in Action accreditation certificate.