Going home following a critical care admission

Leaving hospital and going home is a huge step in your journey towards recovery. However when you are at home you will not have the same support you had in hospital and it can be a difficult time for you and your relatives.

I would say it took me around 10 months to fully recover after I left hospital. This was far longer than I had imagined but exactly what the medical staff told me when I left. My recovery has gone on for the two years that I was told it would do. When you leave it’s a marathon not a sprint, just go with it, and take your time.

Recovering critical care patient

It is normal at times to feel low, depressed or frustrated by the things that you still can’t do. It is sensible to try to get into a routine and set yourself realistic goals.  This will help both your physical and psychological recovery.  Setting goals can help you progress and also show you that you are improving.  Noticing improvement can help build positive feelings which will help motivate you to continue your recovery journey. A suitable initial goal could be something as simple as making a drink or walking a few steps further each day. Try to keep doing any exercises the physiotherapists gave you. It is important not to push yourself too hard though. 

Try not to bottle your feelings up; it can make you feel worse and have a negative impact on your health. You will probably find it helpful to talk your feelings over with people close to you, even though this may be upsetting. You may need to ask others for practical support and this too can be hard to do. There may also be times when you just need some time to yourself. 

Family and friends will probably be able to help you through this difficult time, but some patients may need professional help or advice. Consider seeing your GP if you:

  • have no one to share your feelings with
  • find your feelings overwhelming and difficult to tolerate
  • find that you are preoccupied by particular parts of your experience and this is affecting your thoughts, feelings and ability to sleep
  • are staying away from people more and more
  • are not improving over a six-week period
  • are drinking or smoking too much, or using drink or drugs to cope, or
  • people around you suggest you seek help.

Do not use alcohol or drugs to cope with painful memories or uncomfortable feelings. This will eventually make things worse.