Improving health outcomes and experiences for COVID-19 survivors and their families

There has been little research data on the impact of COVID-19 critical illness on people’s physical and psychological wellbeing. With funding from the Burdett Trust, Dr Suzanne Bench and her team at the London South Bank University aims to improve the health outcomes and experiences of COVID-19survivors and their families.

Dr Suzanne Bench PhD

I am a Professor of Critical Care Nursing at London South Bank University (LSBU) and Deputy Director of Research (nursing) at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust. I also hold an honorary contract at University College London, Hospitals, where I work as an intensive care nurse.

The project

My focus is on codesigning complex interventions with critical illness survivors using qualitative research as the starting point for understanding peoples’experiences and needs.

The aim of this project is to:

  • Describe the experiences of adults diagnosed with severe COVID19 needing advanced breathing support (ventilation)
  • Identify survivors‘ perspectives on the health and social care support required to optimise community-based rehabilitation and recovery.
  • Determine the extent to which COVID19 survivorsexperiences and support needs align with those of other patients recovering from a critical illness.

Together with our NHS collaborators, Dr Matthew Hodson, Dr Gaby Parker (Central London community healthcare NHS Trust) and Dr Hilary Floyd (NHS Seacole centre, Epsom and St Helier NHS trust), and our patient representative (Helen Cherry), our team at London South Bank University (Professor Nicola Thomas, Nicola McGuiness, Alison James) are currently interviewing patients after they have been discharged from hospital to hear theirexperiences and to understand their ongoing recovery needs. Findings are expected by May 2021.

The importance

Worldwide, among all hospitalised patients with COVID-19, 26-32% required an ICU admission in wave one of the pandemic. We have little research data on the impact of COVID-19 critical illness on people’s physical and psychological wellbeing.

The unique clinical features of COVID-19, the novel ways health and social care has been remodelled, wider societal restrictions, and the perceived or actual risk that the patient poses to others (family, friends, medical/care staff, community) may make this experience different from other critical illness recovery experiences.

It is important for us to hear from those with first-hand experience of the disease to fully understand its impact and people’s ongoing support needs.

The impact

We hope that the benefits of this project will be primarily seen by people recovering from critical illness related to COVID-19 (and their families). There is widespread agreement that COVID-19 is likely to be present for some time. It is important that we learn quickly from those who survived the initial wave of this disease and use this learning to effectively care for future patients.

Findings will also provide evidence for policy makers and for community-based health and social care professionals to support effective rehabilitation and recovery strategies. In addition, they will be used to update nurses and other health and social care staff on the most recent evidence to support theirclinical practice.

Although findings will be most applicable to healthcare provision in the two NHS Trusts where data collection is taking place, people living elsewhere in the UK can also benefit by health and social care services considering how the data applies in their sector.

The funding

Funding from the Burdett nursing trust has been pivotal to enabling this project to be delivered in a timely fashion. The funding has provided resources to support data collection and analysis and has enabled patient involvement. It has also provided opportunities for novice nurse researchers to be involved in the project by backfill monies to cover their time.

The future

Collaborative working between universities and health care settings is vital for developing effective future healthcare. This project has resulted in a new collaboration between London South Bank University and two NHS Trusts in London. We hope to build on this collaboration and to use the findings of this study to inform the development of future collaborative grant applications.

Where can people go to find out more about the project?

The study is registered on the COVID-19 Mental Health Studies Register:
Further information is available by emailing:

About London South Bank University
Facebook: @londonsouthbankuni
Twitter: @LSBU
Instagram: @Isbu


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