Promoting independence and return to work after an intensive care stay

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

  • Led by a team from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, in partnership with the University of Glasgow.
  • Run at the intensive care unit (ICU) at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
  • Aimed to improve the health and wellbeing of ICU patients after they are discharged, measured through return to work levels, GP visits and quality of life.
  • Piloted a rehabilitation and support programme that emphasised education and active participation.


Contact: Ms Joanne McPeake


This Shine project, InSPIRE (Intensive care syndrome: Promoting Independence and Return to Employment), aimed to improve the health and well-being of patients a year after being discharged from an intensive care unit (ICU), and specifically to increase return to work and reduce GP visits.

In the UK, over 100,000 patients are admitted to an ICU every year. Patients who have had a prolonged intensive care stay can have persistent physical, psychological and social problems after being discharged.

A team from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has piloted a five week rehabilitation programme for ICU survivors which focused on patient education, peer support and self-management. Each week participants received one hour of physiotherapy as a group, as well as individual sessions with health professionals, to help facilitate quicker recovery and return to work. Personal goals were set with the patients and they also received psychological support, specifically coping skills. The project team also set up a social prescription week where patients met with third sector organisations from the community. The programme placed specific emphasis on recovery for family members as well as patients.

The programme has brought tangible benefits to ICU survivors and their carers. Interviews with participants have demonstrated the positive benefits of the health and support given, as well as changes to both psychological and physical health. Self-efficacy scores increased after five weeks of the programme, showing that patients felt more able to cope with the future after attending the clinic.

Health and social care integration was challenging for the programme team; however, this should become easier as the health and social care integration agenda is fully integrated within the NHS.

Supporting dissemination

This project was given further support through a Spreading Improvement grant to help disseminate learning and maximise the impact of the approach across the health service.

In order to maximise the impact and spread of the successful approaches developed in the original project funding will be used to produce a variety of materials including; two audio visual patient diaries that highlight the challenges patients and caregivers face following discharge, an InS:PIRE website, and digital educational materials to support implementation in other centres.

Contact details

For further information about the project, please email Joanne McPeake at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

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