Critical Care Outreach Nurse

Alexis Vandetti is a critical care outreach nurse and tells us here a bit more about the service and the work that’s been going on in the team to support the Trust’s response to Covid-19.
Can you explain a bit about your role, what it usually involves and where you’re based?
As a critical care outreach nurse, My role involves the assessment and support of deteriorating patients in a ward setting, also the follow up of patients that have had a stay in ITU or HDU. Our service is 24/7 across both the County and PRH. The outreach role brings critical care skills outside of the critical care setting.
Education plays a large part as well, both at the bedside and more formally in acute, transfer and tracheostomy courses. We also attend all medical emergency calls and cardiac arrests.
How has your role had to change in recent weeks?
Although we are dealing with a completely new disease process, I would say that our role has not changed too much. We are still trying to support these patients and the staff taking care of them. A big change has been having to learn as much as we can very quickly and keep up with all the changes as things develop.
How have you found the changes? What has been challenging?
The pace at which we had to adapt to the patient population has been a challenge. New information and ways of working seemed to change so rapidly it was difficult to stay fully informed. I also think that the PPE has been a challenge; we often work in emergency situations with full PPE for prolonged periods of time, as many people will know this is utterly exhausting.
Communication is also made so much more challenging by PPE. Clear communication is something that our team focuses on in teaching and in practice. PPE has proven to be a challenge when communicating with very unwell patients as well as our colleagues.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how committed the team has been to learning as much as we could and then implementing the new knowledge so swiftly. We helped the ward teach patients to ‘self-prone’, which refers to the patient’s positioning, helping their oxygenation quite significantly. The Shared Hearts project was started by our teammate Claire Cox and daily team meetings were established, which helped us all to communicate what was working well and what needed to change.
Our two members of staff who are shielding then worked on creating solutions to the problems we were encountering and guidelines have been written up. Bedside teaching and videos were made to help with deteriorating Covid patients. And lastly, but definitely not least, a follow-up service at 1,3 and 6 months post-Covid recovery has been established by Denise Hinge our Critical Care Nurse Consultant.
Despite the circumstances, I am so impressed every day in the hospital with the kindness and teamwork from everyone.