"The staff on the ICU ward were ..."

About: Derriford Hospital

(as a relative),

What I liked

The staff on the ICU ward were wonderful. They allowed us to stay by the bedside of my brain injured brother 24hrs a day, and always treated us with compassion, understanding and great dignity. They gave us any information we asked for, and watched over both my brother and us constantly. Despite him being in a restless and often violent state of coma, they cared for him with tenderness, tact and endless patience. The ICU nurses saved his life. I owe them a debt of indescribable gratitude, for that and for all they did for the whole family over the two weeks we were there.

What could be improved

A little more honesty about the prognosis for my brother's recovery, from the Neurologists, would have been nice. Perhaps they forget that to the layman, brain injury is a little-understood and never expected occurrence. We had no idea what my brother's injuries "meant". They spoke of "contusions" and "lesions" (not of "bruises" and "tears", which would have been easier to understand in our shocked state) and said that he would "probably be fine". That was it. It was left to us, his family, to learn about the realities of brain injury from books, hastily purchased from Amazon and Headway, which we had delivered to our hotel and which we then read while keeping our vigil at my brother's side. He wasn't fine - as we had quickly inferred he wouldn't be, from reading the literature we had bought - and he spent many months in rehabilitation. Someone to talk to about brain injury would have been wonderful - perhaps just a member of staff who had been briefly trained to impart the important facts and offer specific advice. Or better still, train the neurologists (who in all other respects did a laudable job) how to communicate with families about what has happened to their relative, and what the repercussions will most likely be. I know that nothing is definite, and they don't want to scare relatives with "what may be" - but to be left in a sea of uncertainty is surely worse.

Anything else?

I wish I could thank all the staff in person. My brother was moved to Sheffield (his home city) after two weeks, and we became caught up in the devastating, tiring but life-affirming task of trying to help my brother rebuild his memories, identity and world. We always talked of travelling back down to Plymouth to thank the nurses from the bottom of our hearts for all they did - but three years on, and with much recovery accomplished in that time, this will have to suffice.

Thank you Derriford Hospital.

Story from NHS Choices

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