Intensive care support group launched at DGH G

Eastbourne STEPS patient and relatives support group has met for the first time to support patients who have been treated and cared for on the Intensive Care Unit and their relatives.

Fourteen patients and relatives along with a number of intensive care staff met for the first informal group meeting.

Sylvia Hedges, critical care practice educator, said, “The group has been set up because whether you’re an ex intensive care patient or a relative, being able to talk about your experiences and what you’ve been through with people who understand, because they’ve been through it too, can really help.

“After being critically ill, it may take up to 18 months for patients to fully recover. Some patients go home feeling so weak they may struggle with simple tasks such as getting dressed and moving about, leaving them feeling a loss of independence and low in mood. In addition they may experience a number of psychological symptoms including nightmares, flashbacks (suddenly remembering, in vivid detail, a past experience), hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety and a loss of confidence. Sleep is imperative to healing but the ex Intensive Care patient often has trouble going to sleep and/or suffers from a broken nights sleep.

“Relatives with a loved one in intensive care often feel at a loss to help. Having sat by their bed for weeks, scared they might not make it through, they too are traumatised by the whole experience.”

The Outreach Critical Care team at Eastbourne DGH offer a post critical care follow up clinic, where all patients who have been in the Intensive Care Unit for over 4 days are invited. Following feedback from patients and their relatives the group was set up by Kaye Looker, Outreach Sister and Phil Hartland, ITU Sister and Sylvia Hedges Critical Care Practice Educator to offer more.

The group aims to meet on a bi-monthly basis.