We are both delighted to be settling into our roles of Patient and Family Liaison Nurses and are thrilled to be part of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Team.   

Jo and I each have different but complementary backgrounds, which allow us to bring different experiences and knowledge to this role. Jo is an experienced PICU sister and has spent many, many hours supporting families through some of their darkest times and celebrating amazing recoveries. She is also a member of the Regional Paediatric Retrieval Team so has extensive knowledge of the implications of transporting and caring for critically ill children. On top of this, Jo has carried out voluntary work assisting in the set-up of Paediatric Cardiac Surgery services overseas.  

I too have several years of Intensive Care experience, although primarily adult based, as well as experience of working in a busy Emergency Department. I have nursed patients at the sickest end of the spectrum and enjoyed watching and assisting in their journey back to health. In my years as a Resuscitation Officer I have had the pleasure of seeing cardiac arrest patients recover to be discharged home from hospital, while also witnessing the enduring and life-changing effect that these events have on the patients and their families.   

Bringing these experiences together means that we are now able to offer patients treated by the DSAA Critical Care Team an additional level of support. We have begun building relationships with our local and regional hospitals as well as the Critical Care and Trauma Networks. This is so important as we cannot possibly do this job properly without integrating into the already amazing services our local NHS provides. For example, we have now established a great relationship with Bristol Children’s Hospital Trauma Coordinating Team and can now complement their incredible work, offering additional and ongoing support to children and their families who come to their hospital with the DSAA team. 

In our first few months, we have met a number of patients who have visited the airbase to meet the crew who treated them.  This has assisted us so much in identifying what needs these patients have and where the gaps in their recovery journey lie. A patient’s family recently stated that they were “haunted by the lack of knowledge surrounding their son’s incident” because they were moved away from the scene due to the practical circumstancesWe believe we have begun to fill these gaps, helping patients understand how and why they were treated and giving them the chance to talk through their incident with our Clinical Team. Sometimes, we have just listened and been aear for them to air their feelings and at times a shoulder to cry on. For others, we have begun to offer support services via links we have built with other charities. This has ranged from counselling services and peer support to practical help with accessing rehabilitation aids. For some of the patients we have met, just knowing they can talk to us is so reassuring, because their recoveries may be long and tough and at times very lonely. A poly-trauma patient told me recently that talking to me had changed her “perspective on recovery from negative to positive, just knowing you will support me in achieving my goals gives me more strength to tackle them.”  

This is what we hope to do going forward; strengthen and enhance the recovery of patients and support them as much as we can for as long as they need.