Family diary set to inspire & comfort others
A family has published the diary they kept during their bedside vigil in the Royal Devon & Exeter Intensive Care Unit so that relatives in similar circumstances understand the benefits of recording their experience during this difficult time.
Nurses at the RD&E write regular updates in a diary for each critically ill patient in their care and encourage relatives to record their thoughts, experience and news about their domestic or working life. The diaries have been recognised as a valuable resource in a number of ways for the patients and their families.
Now with funding support from the RD&E League of Friends, the Belcher family of Sidbury in East Devon has published copies of their diary recording the highs and lows of when Michael Belcher was struck down by a flu virus and a severe pneumonia in December 2010. He felt unwell at work and was taken by ambulance to the RD&E where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Mr Belcher, who has made a good recovery, said: “We hope by sharing our diary it can give hope and encourage other families of patients on the unit to record their thoughts and what is happening because the diary can have immeasurable benefits. We particularly wanted to do this for the unit by way of a thank you to the remarkable staff team who, despite incredible odds, saved my life. We will be forever indebted to them all.”
Consultant Critical Care Nurse Carole Boulanger said: “It can be very difficult for a patient if they cannot account for what happened to them and their families when they were unconscious or on a ventilator in the unit for days, weeks or longer. This can hold back their recovery or. As we know from research into this field can lead to post traumatic stress disorder. The use of a diary can provide the missing piece of the jigsaw and help a patient reclaim the time they lost when they were so unwell.
“Sometimes patients can feel frustrated by the pace of their recovery but they can get a better sense of just how much they have progressed when they read the diary entries. For their relatives it can be an emotional rollercoaster and they can feel that time has stood still by keeping the diary up to date about their own thoughts and news from home can ensure they are and feel involved when they are on the unit and be a way of expressing the highs and lows. This is also useful for the patient to read later as it can be difficult to appreciate how difficult situations like this are for whole family.”
Copies of the diary will be available in the relatives’ room on the Intensive Therapy Unit at the RD&E Wonford hospital.