Aftercare supports 100 patients and families in first year

July 1 marks the first anniversary of our Aftercare service.

Thanks to your support, last year we began providing follow up support to patients, their relatives and on scene bystanders – helping with physical and mental recovery, coping with grief and much more.

In the last 12 months, our Aftercare team has provided support to 100 patients and families – with around 400 people contacted with the offer of our care. We spoke to the team to look back on their first year and look ahead to the future of Aftercare.

What are the things you’re most frequently being asked to support with?

Every person we have spent time with has been through a completely unique and always life-changing experience. We’ve seen an extremely varied mix, from cardiac arrest survivors to bereaved families.

But the most frequent area of our work requested is bereavement support. Supporting bereaved families through the timeline of events and explaining the treatment provided during resuscitation helps make sense of distressing events, enabling families to continue processing their grief.

For most of the patients we support, we are receiving feedback that filling in the gaps from the day of the incident itself is extremely valuable, as these gaps in time can be very distressing.

Often, our patients have absolutely no memory of what happened. The conversations that arise from our discussions give them a much greater understanding of the treatment they were given that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Without your donation our patients wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk openly with a clinician who understands the nature of what has happened to them and explore the treatment they were given. This has proved to be invaluable.

What are the benefits you’re seeing and hearing from patients and their relatives?

Patients and their relatives often tell us that understanding what happened to them and the treatment that was provided has really helped to make them feel supported.

We know that supporting emotional trauma helps towards physical recovery, but sometimes just knowing you’re not alone and others have felt and been through the same allows them to feel seen after they’ve been discharged.

What impact is your service having on the crew?

Reuniting patients with the crew can be incredibly rewarding – for everyone involved. Naturally, some meetings evoke emotion and are often extremely powerful. But not only does this give the patient the opportunity to say thank you, it gives the crew an invaluable opportunity to gain insight into the patient’s experience.

It is often a chance for all to see how far they have come and take a moment to enjoy the positive outcome that hard work in recovery can bring.

As part of Aftercare, we have provided clinical feedback to our crew for 392 patients. This is a vital element of our service – closing the loop for the clinical team who treated the patient.

What would you say to any of our patients, their relatives or bystanders who are unsure about contacting Aftercare for support?

To all of those who have experienced critical illness or injury and are unsure whether you should respond to one of our letters, please do. If you don’t need us, great – we’d love to hear how you’re doing.

If you think a little bit of support could help or if you’re struggling, you don’t need to be ready for us – we are ready for you.

Or, if you want to know what happened in a safe and supported way, we are here for you.

We always work to your pace and understand that everyone’s response to what happened to them is highly personal. We adapt our approach to each case, and we will always be here if you need us.

What do the next 12 months hold for Aftercare?

We hope to explore some of the ideas we have as a team, such as working closely with more hospitals and the ambulance service, as well as responding to suggestions of what our patients and families are telling us would help in their recovery.

What would you say to all our supporters who have made this service possible?

On behalf of the Aftercare team and the patients and families we work with, thank you! We are extremely grateful and want you to know that your support is making a difference.

What our patients say

Gary Parsons, 58 from Eastleigh, has been working with the Aftercare team following a cardiac arrest in a pub during a holiday on the Isle of Wight in 2021. Gary collapsed while he was out to lunch with his wife Penny and their two friends. He was treated and airlifted to hospital.

A man and a lady in a busy indoor setting

Gary and Penny are thankful for the care they have received throughout their journey

Gary said:

“If it wasn’t for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance team who brought me back after almost an hour, I wouldn’t be here today.

“It took me nearly a year to fully recover, but I always had something missing. After such a traumatic event, I found it hard to get my head to understand what my body was going through. There seemed to be nowhere else to turn. But, luckily, the new Aftercare team reached out to me and my wife, Penny.

“I had talks with them, visited the Airbase and charity offices where they listened to my feelings, discussed my treatment in detail and showed us the equipment that was used on me. That really helped both Penny and me deal with the trauma. It was incredibly eye opening.

“I would recommend anyone going through the same as me to reach out to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Aftercare team. Without them, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”

Lianne Forbes from Southampton had large gaps in her memory after she was intubated by our crew in the back of an ambulance following multiple severe seizures.

Lianne is grateful to everyone who supports us for helping to save her life

Lianne said:

“There’s just a block of memory that doesn’t exist. But after meeting with them, I left with this massive weight lifted off my shoulders. I couldn’t praise them enough.”

50-year-old Simon Munford had a seizure at his desk at work in September 2023. His colleagues sprang into action.

Simon and his colleagues completed Southampton Marathon in April to raise money for us

Simon said:

“After benefiting from the wonderful care of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, I found being able to talk through with someone what happened to me a great help to gain an understanding of what happened and to put this into perspective from a professional medical point of view.

“As I have no memory of the incident, my questions were answered to explain what happened and why. A valuable service for those that want to understand the circumstances and treatment they received. Thank you!”

Need help and support from the team? Visit our Patient and Family Support page today.