"Intensive Care experience"
About: Forth Valley Royal Hospital / Intensive care unit Forth Valley Royal Hospital Intensive care unit FK5 4WR
Posted by emearg (as ),
There’s quite a bit of background to this feedback - please bear with me.
I’m a nurse with over 30 years NHS experience.
I have had family members in ICU before - all have survived.
Two weeks ago, my father-in-law collapsed in the street, and was admitted to FVRH ICU Base 2. His prognosis was very poor, and after 24 hours of supportive care, he was allowed to die peacefully with his family in attendance.
I have been involved in similar scenarios with patients and their families for years. This was the first time I’ve had a family member of my own die in ICU.
I am also aware the staff who delivered our care had the added burden of having an NHS employees family to look after - I know from experience this is not easy.
The first thing I want to say is - the most important thing to relatives is to be treated by kind staff who have time to spend with them. Base 2 was clearly very busy when our family needed care, yet the staff could not have been kinder or more considerate. This was not just my own observation, but all of my family members too. My mother-in-law in particular benefited greatly from this attention from the staff. For this alone I can’t thank your staff enough.
Second - we numbered 18 family members, ranging from 18 to 80 in age. We were also one of three families going through the same process on the same days. Yet the staff never wavered in their accommodation of our needs, our coming-and-going, supporting our bedside vigil through both days. Their professionalism and compassion were faultless.
The Consultant on duty on the first day - Fiona - was excellent. Her attentiveness, and her attention to detail was truly exceptional. The consideration she showed my 80-year old mother-in-law was genuinely heart-warming. Even to someone who works within the NHS, Fiona taught me phrasing that I’d not heard before - which created genuine positivity from a dark situation for my mother-in-law.
The nursing staff were also a true credit to our profession. Our family won’t forget them - Susan, Ceri, Diane, Lesley. They all provided exceptional care. I know I probably put Ceri under more pressure than she deserved - especially when the decision to remove life support was taken - but her professionalism was faultless. Lesley, too, demonstrated exceptional nursing skill in ensuring the last 20 minutes of my father-in-law’s life was completely comfortable, and attended by his inner circle.
I am also indebted to Fiona and Ceri in particular, who recognised my own personal struggle between grief and professional insight. Their timely comments and support were invaluable.
I also want to point out that everyone in that team was genuinely caring and compassionate - I’m sure the domestic nor the reception staff did not know what I do for a living, but all three of them were genuinely lovely people who couldn’t have been nicer to us.
There were other clues to a great team at work that didn’t escape me. Joe was a student nurse. Rachel is a recent addition to the team. The support and encouragement these people were receiving despite the workload and emotionally-challenging situations didn’t escape me. I was very impressed, despite my own upsetting circumstances.
The evening my father-in-law was admitted to Base 2, the duty consultant explained the plan of care. Apologies - I forget her name - but my professional head had the worst case scenario playing out, and I asked her to withdraw life support in the face of futility there and then. Of course, she couldn’t (and my professional head knew this), but I didn’t want to subject my family to the unpleasant events I knew were unfolding ahead. As it turned out, it was far from unpleasant. Your team facilitated us to be together to support the head of our family through a dignified death, memorable to all of us for all the right reasons. From myself, and all our family, please accept a heart-felt thank you. I now fully understand why families feel overwhelming gratitude to a good intensive care team - I do, now, too.