All patients will be reviewed by the physiotherapists on the unit and receive chest physiotherapy to help clear secretions and make sure that the lungs are working as well as possible, whether the patient is breathing for themselves or having assistance from a ventilator.
During their stay in critical care the patient may have lost weight and muscle strength and feel extremely weak. Physiotherapists will also help them to build up their strength again and move towards independence. We will continue to help patients with their daily needs whilst encouraging them to do things for themselves.
Speech and language therapists assess patients who have problems speaking or swallowing, and help them communicate more easily. They can also advise on how to start eating and drinking safely.
Dietitians and nutritional specialists will support and advise on nutritional requirements and any special dietary needs.
Sometimes, a patient’s recovery can be very slow and this can make them feel very tearful and frustrated with their progress. We will try to support the patient through this. Having supportive family and friends around them can help a patient’s recovery.
A member of the critical care team will visit the patient a few days after discharge to check on their progress. The ward staff and physiotherapists will continue to support the patient to achieve their rehabilitation goals they are ready to go home.
The ICU steps website has lots of useful information about the physical and emotional effects of a prolonged critical care stay and what life may be like when patients leave critical care. Visit the ICU Steps website.
This has been shown to help with the recovery phase of critical illness and is vital in helping us improve the care of both patients and relatives on the critical care unit in the future.
Typically, any patient that has been on a ventilator for more than three days is invited to attend three months after discharge. Other patients who were not ventilated but received high dependency care and are still having problems with their recovery after four to six months can also be referred by their GP.