Bendigo Health ICU patient diaries helping to tackle trauma and anxiety

Val Coghill, Jenni Tuena, Darcy Bales and Beth Benbow with an ICU patient diary in the new hospital's simulation room.
Val Coghill, Jenni Tuena, Darcy Bales and Beth Benbow with an ICU patient diary in the new hospital's simulation room.

SEVERAL documents trace the journey of a patient in Bendigo Health’s Intensive Care Unit.

Most are intended for use by the staff. 

The diaries the Intensive Care Unit Auxiliary helps supply are different, in that they’re created for the patient. 

ICU clinical nurse consultant Jenni Tuena said the diaries aimed to help reduce the anxiety and trauma associated with being critically unwell.

For many patients, memories of time spent in intensive care can be hazy. 

Having a record of what occurred while they were receiving care could help patients fill in the gaps, Ms Tuena said. 

She said diary entries could range from milestones in the patient’s medical condition, such as breathing independently, to a record of a loved one’s visit, or a change in the country’s leadership.

Some of the diaries she has seen have included photographs of birthdays, and descriptions of the weather.

Anyone can contribute to the diaries, from the medical staff and volunteers to friends and visitors.

“Some people leave it on their coffee table – it can be quite a treasured item,” Ms Tuena said. 

Patients have the option of taking their diary with them when they leave the unit.

“Nearly everybody takes it,” Ms Tuena said. 

The diaries are just one of the many contributions the auxiliary makes to the unit. 

Bendigo Health has awarded 19 scholarships to critical care nursing students in the past 10 years.

The $2500 scholarships help cover the cost of the 12-month post-graduate critical care course.

The Intensive Care Unit Auxiliary craft stall was a hit with people travelling through the 'main street' of the new Bendigo hospital.

The Intensive Care Unit Auxiliary craft stall was a hit with people travelling through the 'main street' of the new Bendigo hospital.

The auxiliary has raised more than $1 million for the Intensive Care Unit in its 38-year history.

ICU nurse unit manager Darcy Bales said the group’s support enabled Bendigo Health to purchase equipment for the unit that was not funded by the state government.

Examples included the PiCCO cardiac output monitor.

“It also increases our profile,” Mr Bales said. 

On Thursday morning, auxiliary members were stationed in the ‘main street’ of the new hospital.

Handcrafted stuffed toys, blankets, and preserved goods such as relishes were displayed over a number of tables.

Auxiliary secretary Beth Benbow said the monthly craft stall was one of a number of fundraising initiatives run by the group.

Others included raffles and a craft exhibition. 

Eight members are at the auxiliary’s core. 

Ms Benbow said the group was keenly seeking new members.

She invited anyone interested in getting involved to call her on 5446 9691 for further information.