Rehabilitation after critical illness: could a ward-based generic rehabilitation assistant promote recovery?

Nurs Crit Care. 2010 Mar-Apr;15(2):57-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-5153.2010.00382.x.


Aim: The aim of this paper is to explore issues surrounding the implementation of a generic rehabilitation assistant (GRA) to provide ward-based rehabilitation after critical illness.

Background: Following critical illness a range of both physical and psychological problems can occur that include muscle wasting and weakness, fatigue, reduced appetite, post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression. Limited research exists evaluating the provision of rehabilitation to this patient group. This paper explores one possible service delivery model providing ward-based rehabilitation after critical illness. The model explored is a GRA working in conjunction with ward-based staff.

Results: We describe how a GRA worked effectively with ward-based teams to provide additional rehabilitation in the period after discharge from intensive care. Benefits included greater continuity of care that was flexible to the individual needs of patients. Some aspects of the role were challenging for the GRA and highlighted the need for good communication skills. A need for comprehensive training of the GRA was demonstrated.

Conclusions: Our experience demonstrates that it is feasible to deliver ward-based rehabilitation after critical illness using the GRA service delivery model.

Relevance to clinical practice: This model of service delivery offers the potential to improve outcomes for patients after a critical illness. Further research evaluating this model of care is required before implementation into clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness / rehabilitation*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Therapy / nursing*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / nursing*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rehabilitation Nursing / organization & administration*