“To hear the words critical but stable isn’t enough for families at this time – we’ve had to change our approach.”
Lucy Mason is a Sister on Walsall Manor Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and over the past few weeks she’s spoken to many families whose loved ones have been fighting for their lives with Covid-19.
“It is already extremely distressing and difficult if your loved one needs critical care but this pandemic has magnified the situation because no-one is able to visit the hospital,” she said.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like for the families who are going through this right now – if they were present they’d obviously be able to see progress or deterioration for themselves. They’d have a much better sense of how badly the virus is affecting people as well as how amazing it is to see the improvement in patients. I think communication between staff and families is more important now than ever.”
Lucy has had to have some tough conversations and being unable to have these face to face makes this a real challenge.
“To hear the words critical but stable isn’t enough for families at this time – we’ve had to change our approach. We have had to be as open and honest as we would be if they were physically at the bedside so they have as true a picture as possible. And this has meant having to tell some people that their loved one isn’t expected to survive. This has been really tough. I have been as distraught as the families afterwards but we owe it to them to give them all the information we can, to give them clear explanations and to also offer reassurance that their loved ones are not alone and that we are doing our absolute best for them.
“Just as important have been the conversations where we’re sharing progress on our patients. It might not seem much to hear that your relative is wriggling their toes or trying to raise their hands but it’s important we get relative on board the rehabilitation journey so they understand that these improvements are all significant and moving us ever closer to getting patients out on ICU, on to a ward and back home.
“We need families to be spurring them on along with our own therapists and for them to be on board as we all work together to achieve the best outcome.”