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New support group for intensive care patients

Tuesday, 08 July, 2014
New support group for intensive care patients

A new support group for patients who have been looked after in intensive care and their families is being launched in the north of the region this week.

The first group of its kind for patients from across Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle – ‘ICU Steps North of Tyne’ – is part of a network of intensive care support groups across the country which offers ongoing support to patients following a stay in intensive care.

The launch of the new group in the north of Tyne area is being led by critical care staff at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and will be chaired by former North Tyneside intensive care patient Mick Gray.

Meeting for the first time at 2pm on Tuesday 12 November at The Briar Dene pub in Whitley Bay, ICU Steps will be the only group of its kind in the area to help connect people who have been in intensive care and offer them support and the chance to meet others in similar circumstances.

All intensive care patients from across north of Tyne will be given information about the new ICU Steps group as part of their recovery process in hospital.

Dr Karen Connelly, consultant in critical care medicine at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Being on intensive care both as a patient and as a family member can be a frightening and life changing experience and up until now there hasn’t been any formal support groups in place to help local families during their recovery and beyond.

“Through ‘ICU Steps North of Tyne’ we hope to connect former patients from right across the area with others who have also been through critical illness and are at different stages in their recovery.  By sharing experiences it can often help reassure patients and relatives that there is light at the end of the tunnel and dispel much of their worry.”

The critical care team at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is leading the way nationally when it comes to improving the aftercare of intensive care patients through its new ‘Rehabilitation after Critical Illness’ (RaCI) programme.

As part of RaCI, all Northumbria patients who have been critically ill have patient diaries completed by the multidisciplinary team and their families. The purpose is to record what has been happening both to them, and in the outside world, during their illness – this is shared with them later, as part of their recovery.RaCI assistant Sarah Lindman has recently been appointed to provide dedicated rehabilitation to intensive care patients at North Tyneside General Hospital. She works with patients and their families whilst they are in intensive care, once they are back on the ward and is a point of contact following discharge, providing vital continuity in the care provided.

Sarah has been instrumental in setting up the new ICU Steps support group with the assistance of the North of England Critical Care Network and will be at the launch event on Tuesday.

She said: “Recovering from critical illness is a long process and it can take between 12 and 18 months once patients leave intensive care to get anywhere near ‘back to normal’.  This is something that is poorly understood and it can be very stressful for patients and families alike.

“Our aim is provide a network of support for people as they readjust their lives following critical illness and I would encourage anyone who is interested to come along to one of our ICU Steps get togethers which will be very friendly and informal.”

ICU Steps North of Tyne is part of national registered charity ‘ICU steps’.  It will meet every month in Whitley Bay and details of forthcoming meetings are available at: