Nurses link with critical care charity to set up patient support group in Harlow
Following a stroke, heart surgery, or other serious illness, patients are cared for by specialists in a critical care unit (CCU), and The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) sees more than 600 patients a year in its CCU. At PAHT nurses, therapists and doctors were determined that patients should receive support for all their needs, both during their time as a patient in and also when they leave hospital.
Following a stroke, heart surgery, or other serious illness, patients are cared for by specialists in a critical care unit (CCU), and The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust sees more than 600 patients a year in its CCU.
While some patients stay a few days, others may need more time. Patients generally recover physically in about 18 months to 2 years, and continue with their daily lives after leaving hospital.
But while the physical signs of being critically ill eventually recede, the emotional healing can take much longer. Often it is hidden while the person copes mentally with the traumatic experience they have faced, and adapts to a new way of experiencing life.
They often have to relearn everyday actions, such as walking or talking, and face concerns for what the future holds. While their GP will give medical aftercare following surgery, who can they turn to for emotional and mental support and coping with life after serious surgery?
At The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust nurses, therapists and doctors were determined that patients should receive support for all their needs, both during their time as a patient in and also when they leave hospital. They looked at how to create support networks for their patients and sought a partner to do this. They have now teamed up with critical care charity ICU Steps, and are delighted to be launching ICU Steps Harlow.
The work is being led by Leena George and Tamara Pendry, senior sisters in critical care, who explained why they were committed to starting the group: "Survivors of critical care can experience many problems once they are discharged from the Critical Care Unit. It is not only physical problems that patients may experience, but also psychological issues which may include post intensive care syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder.
From our experience of speaking with survivors of critical care in our critical care follow up clinic, we have become more aware that there is a lack of support for survivors and their families in the community. Through the support group we aim to create a support network for survivors and their families, in a non-threatening, open and honest environment, to aid their journey to recovery."
The group will welcome anyone who has a personal history of critical illness themselves or as a partner or carer.
Dr Andy Morris, chief medical officer at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust, said: "I spent many years working as an intensive care consultant and understand just how essential this initiative is. There is much in medical literature as to how big a problem this is and how much after-care patients and their families and carers need.
"There are many factors that can make a stay on intensive care deeply distressing with long term physical and psychological impacts; and support for these patients has been very limited on a national level. It is fantastic that our CCU team are taking a strong lead on this. I am sure this will have a very positive impact and contribute to our learning on how to improve our care for this group of patients."
The launch of ICU Steps Harlow will take place on Friday, 25 October, at 7pm. The event will be held at Harlow Fire Station, 1 Stone Cross, Harlow, CM20 1AA, which will be the venue for future group meetings. The organisers are inviting everyone with an interest in joining or supporting the group to come along to the launch event. Parking is available in Sainsbury's, Allende Ave, CM20 2AG (please sign in at Customer Services); refreshments will be provided. For further information, email email@example.com or call 07540 059791 or 07826 909788.