Critical care patients and their family members joined Royal Brompton's adult intensive care unit (AICU) team for their annual ‘patient day’ in mid-May.
More than 50 former patients and family members travelled from as far as the Republic of Ireland to attend the event, which is now in its fifth year.
Senior nurse and matron Jo Tillman said: “The day provides former patients, their relatives and healthcare professionals with the opportunity to share their experiences and discuss changes we can make to improve our service for people who come into critical care in the future. It also gives patients the chance to reconnect with the intensive care team and make links with others who have been in the same situation.
“The day can be a real milestone in the recovery of patients and can help them gain a sense of closure. Staff get a lot out of it too. It’s really humbling, to see how people have survived and the progress they have made.”
Speaking at the event, Tracy Sugden praised the team’s efforts to treat her partner Matthew who survived myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle): "You never gave up searching for the best way to save his life – what you did was astonishing – I’ll never forget what you’ve done."
Dr Suveer Singh, one of the consultant intensivists who spoke at the day, reiterated the importance of patients’ feedback for the intensive care team: "I see intensive care as being like a wheel with a hub and spokes – the many specialists and carers are the spokes and the patient is the hub at the centre. It's a great privilege to meet our former patients again because they are at the centre of everything we do.”
Other speakers included three former patients, who shared their experiences of AICU and their recovery after critical illness, as well as clinical psychologist Dr Anne-Marie Doyle, staff nurse Claire Gallacher and consultant intensivist Dr Tina Xu, who each provided an insight into different aspects of critical care and the after-effects of being critically ill.
Feedback from patients and relatives at each patient day has guided the team’s efforts to ‘humanise’ the critical care environment and provide holistic support at every stage of someone’s stay in critical care. Initiatives introduced as a result have included:
- ‘This is me’ – individual boards by every bed which display photos and personal details written by relatives and staff about each patient, such as their likes and dislikes, who is important to them, and the name they like to be called.
- Pets – a guideline is now in place so that pets can visit the unit.
- Children – providing support to enable younger family members to visit. For example, staff find out if relatives have children, whether they want to visit, and inform those on duty when younger visitors will be coming in.
- A water cooler and staff tea-making rota are now in place so that drinks are more readily available to visitors.
- Introduction of a smartphone app to make information about AICU, and the types of treatment and procedures patients receive, easily accessible to visitors and patients.
You can find out more information about our adult intensive care unit on its service page.