NICE guidance published today aims to help improve care for patients while they are recovering from critical illness.
The guidance sets out minimum standards for care during the recovery and rehabilitation stage, focusing on common problems such as physical difficulties, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and loss of mental faculty.
It also focuses on family members, who can become informal caregivers, which can in turn cause ill-health, strain family relations and affect financial security.
Key recommendations include assessments throughout the patient’s stay in hospital, including in critical care, a comprehensive assessment for patients recovering slowly to assess their rehabilitation needs and a swift start for rehabilitation.
Assessments should identify physical, sensory or communication difficulties, emotional or psychological problems and any social care or equipment needs before patients leave hospital.
Patients should be given a copy of their critical care discharge summary and rehabilitation plan, which should be sent to their GP with details of their critical care stay and the contact details of the person coordinating rehabilitation.
Upon discharge, patients should be given details about how to manage normal daily activity to get back to daily routines, information about returning to work and their needs should be reviewed two or three months after leaving hospital.
Christina Jones, nurse consultant in critical care follow up, said: ‘Rehabilitation needs to start while the patient is still in ICU and should address both physical and psychological needs.
‘The process of physical recovery can take months and the psychological problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, which can occur, may have much longer term impacts on the patients’ quality of life.’