Next steps for patients after Critical Care

Posted on Wed, 19/07/2017 by Susan Lawley, Specialist Nurse for Critical Care Rehabilitation

Susan Lawley

Susan Lawley helps to rehabilitate patients who have had a stay in Critical Care. Here she explains what her job entails.

I graduated with a degree in Nursing at The University of Edinburgh in 2004.  I worked in a hospital in Edinburgh in the regional infectious diseases ward for one year before returning to the North East to start a rotation job at the QE. I worked in surgery, medicine and theatres on the rotation and my last placement was in critical care. I enjoyed being able to give one to one care to very unwell patients and their relatives in a (generally) calm, controlled environment therefore stayed in critical care for the following ten years.

I now have an amazing job working with people who have been very unwell in critical care and their families. I feel fortunate that I get to see those who survive what can be a very difficult and traumatic experience. 

Alongside my excellent team we provide rehabilitation mainly to people who have been on a breathing machine for 3 days or more. We make diaries for these people so they can understand what has happened to them, we take people out from critical care to see the outside world, we talk about what has happened and support their relatives. This rehabilitation starts when a patient is on the Critical Care Unit and then continues on the ward and when they go home I even ring them up to check how they are getting on and finally see them in an outpatient clinic to review them more formally once they have been home for a couple of months.

It is difficult for me to describe a typical day as I can be faced with all sorts of problems and jobs on any particular day.  Generally I meet with the critical care rehabilitation assistants, Sonia and Andrea, first thing for a handover of our patients. I will then review patients on critical care to check if any diaries need to be started, and what the plans are for the day for patients on the rehabilitation pathway. 

I am currently leading a quality improvement project working to identify delirium, prevent and treat it therefore I have been doing bite size training in this and prompting staff to complete the appropriate screen.  I see my role as an advocate for the psychological wellbeing of patients in critical care as it is an area where people‚Äôs physical condition is paramount but their psychological state is also important, especially in what can be a long recovery process.

I also review the patients on the wards, complete assessments on physical and psychological function, talk about what has happened during their stay in hospital, go through their diary if they want to look at it, liaise with the MDT on their rehabilitation goals and general recovery and work with the rehabilitation assistants on functional goals and mobility.  We are well supported by our physiotherapy colleagues and I enjoy working as part of a multidisciplinary team.

This pathway has been proven to reduce length of stay post critical care by 50% and have a positive impact on quality of life and patient experience. Because of this success I was part of a team developing a similar pathway for orthopaedic trauma patients.

I manage two orthopaedic rehabilitation assistants who work with a small group of patients on wards 14a and treatment centre level one, this has been shown to reduce the length of stay for fractured neck femurs and has received lots of positive feedback with all patients saying they would be extremely likely to recommend the service to friends and family.

I see it as a privilege to be able to help patients and their families in the journey through hospital and beyond which can be frightening and traumatic. I enjoy the great variety of my job which can take me from helping someone to have a shower one day to training people on how to manage to delirium to organising events raising money for our support group ICU Steps South of Tyne to speaking at national conferences about what has been achieved at QE Gateshead.  I think that the QE does very well at looking after the whole person and valuing many specialist nurse roles which provide the support and care which people need. 

Find out more about Critical Care Rehab here

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can change this and find out more by following this link.
Accept Cookies