English National Opera and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust announce national rollout of ENO Breathe programme for people recovering from COVID-19

Following the success of a six week pilot, English National Opera (ENO) ENO Breathe is to be rolled out in City and Hackney at Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust. 

ENO Breathe is an integrated social prescribing programme of singing, breathing and wellbeing, breaking new ground as the first of its kind created to provide crucial support to people recovering from COVID-19. The programme’s combined approach brings together musical and medical expertise to combat the increasing need for support for those experiencing long-COVID symptoms. Building on techniques used by singers, the holistic online programme offers self-management tools for patients experiencing breathlessness, and the anxiety that this can produce.

Led by Baylis, ENO’s learning and participation programme, ENO Breathe uses weekly group online sessions and digital resources to empower participants with tools and techniques to help them focus constructively on their breathing. The programme focuses on breathing retraining through singing, using lullabies as its musical starting point. Traditional lullabies cross boundaries of culture, are accessible to all and are expressly designed to calm. Led by professional singing specialists, participants learn breathing and singing exercises, using an approach that mirrors techniques employed by opera singers who achieve the physical coordination required for singing via emotional connection and imagery, rather than by giving their bodies explicit physiological instructions. Participants are then equipped with exercises to practice these techniques in their own time, aided by online resources specifically designed to support their progress.

Jenny Mollica, Director of ENO Baylis said: ‘The ENO are committed to making a difference to the lives of people and communities recovering from COVID-19, using our unique skills and resources in ways that are relevant and useful – and that matter to people. Following our successful pilot programme, we are hugely proud to be able to roll out ENO Breathe nationally, enabling us to support many more patients in their recovery from COVID and journey back to wellness. Combining cutting edge musical and medical expertise, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and to working with post-COVID assessment clinics across the country in this next phase of the programme’.

ENO Breathe will be offered to up to 1,000 patients and 25+ post-COVID clinics in this next phase. ENO are expanding the online material available to participants during the programme, along with making dedicated groups available to NHS Healthcare staff recovering from COVID. Additionally, support continues for those who complete the ENO Breathe six-week programme. A dedicated post programme site of digital resources will be available to support participants to continue to self-manage their ongoing recovery, along with a chance to join a drop-in virtual singing group in order to continue to benefit from ENO Breathe’s community and support. Strict monitoring and evaluation of the programme will continue in this next phase, with plans for a more in-depth research trial currently underway.

You can find out more here.