Messages to others about being in intensive care with COVID-19

People talked about what helped them and passed on messages to others based on their experience.

This page covers:

  • Messages about Covid
  • Messages for partners/family members and friends
  • Messages for Covid/ICU patients
  • Thank you messages for NHS staff

Different things work for different people. The hope is that you will find something that will be helpful for you (see also intensive-care-messages-to-others). This is what people said:

Messages about Covid

Be aware that Covid is real. Severe Covid is life threatening, and some people do not survive it. Some survivors leave hospital with acquired disabilities. Recovery may take months, and sometimes even years.

Carl advised people to take Covid seriously, and to seek help if they have symptoms.

  • Do what you can to stop yourself from getting Covid: keep your distance, wash your hands frequently, ventilate spaces and wear a mask when and where you can.
  • Vaccines reduce the risk of severe Covid. Get your vaccine or booster to reduce your risk of developing severe Covid.
  • When you do have symptoms, do get tested, and self-isolate if you test positive. If your symptoms are getting worse, do not leave seeking help too late, as this may affect the severity of your condition.

Messages for partners and family members

  • Trust the clinical staff. ICU (Intensive Care Unit) is the best place to be if your loved one needs intensive care.
  • Speak to somebody about your experiences, anxieties and frustrations.

Deborah advised people to talk about their experiences.

  • Reduce your social media and news intake if this helps you take a break from the constant confrontation with Covid.

Messages for Covid/ICU patients

  • Try to stay positive. There are setbacks but staying optimistic will help you face such difficult times. When staying positive is hard, know that this too is completely normal.
  • Remember that staff are also going through a difficult time. But they are there to support you, so do not let this stop you from saying what would help you.

Caroline advised people to appreciate staff for doing such challenging work.

  • Recovery takes time and is not the same for everyone. Pace yourself and try to be realistic in setting goals. Michael advised: “The temptation is to set dates and say I have to be at this particular point in my health by a certain date, but you can’t do that, you’ve just got to accept life as it is.”

Emma advised that people give themselves time to recover, and try to be realistic in setting goals.

  • You will need a lot of support. Accept support from family, friends and others.

Ann advised that people get as much information and support as they can.

  • If you are struggling with nightmares or trauma at home, do not keep it to yourself. Try phoning a support group and sharing your experience. Doing so may take a load off your shoulders.
  • If you continue to struggle with symptoms/long Covid, ask for help. For more information see Experiences of long Covid).

Thank you messages for NHS staff

People we spoke to were incredibly grateful to NHS staff for what they had done for them. This gratitude extends beyond the ICU staff to the ward staff; beyond the clinical staff to all hospital staff; and beyond hospital staff to GPs and other community health care workers.

Caroline is thankful to NHS staff for saving her life.

The people we interviewed shared many ways in which staff helped them get through this difficult time.

  • Keep writing your names on your PPE if you are wearing it; seeing your name helps people to orientate themselves and remember you.
  • Videocalling is immensely valuable. Sometimes somebody may not initially want to (video)call their loved ones and will often be glad when you gently help them overcome that reluctance.

Emma is particularly grateful to the nurse who encouraged her to call her family.

Support after discharge is greatly appreciated. That the ICU team was just a phone call away was widely appreciated by those who experienced symptoms and felt anxieties after hospital discharge and their family members.

Many people we spoke to went on to send gifts to NHS staff or raise money for the NHS after they left hospital.

Laurence pledged to do 100 miles cycling trail to raise money for his local hospital, and many – including healthcare staff – have donated.