Learning for improvement from COVID-19 intensive care patient experiences
During the initial months of the pandemic, numbers dominated the news: numbers of deaths from COVID-19, ICU admissions, survivors, excess deaths. Especially in the first weeks of the pandemic, voices of patients were notably absent. The emphasis on patient experiences represents an important alternative to numbers – and a shift towards valuing stories. Stories allow us to understand disease and treatment not as one-time events, or as interruptions in the life of any one individual, but as embedded in the everyday life of patients, families and communities. Importantly, telling stories is a practice in and of itself: stories, patients and those who surround them are not passive but responsive to complex events that happen to them. Telling these stories and analysing them to render them understandable in new ways are powerful tools to make sense of a situation and to inform solutions that could be helpful to others.
This qualitative study will deliver in-depth and high-quality research to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. To this end, I will capture experiences of people who have been critically ill with COVID-19 and have been cared for in an Intensive Care Unit, their family members, and the family members of those who did not survive. In this project I will conduct focus groups on emergent themes to identify areas for health care improvement initiatives in ICU and post-ICU care in a COVID- and a post-COVID world. The project will advance the field of healthcare improvement studies by capturing patient narratives and developing possibilities for their use in co-design to improve care delivery.