I was pleased to attend the inaugural meeting of the National Assembly for Wales’ Cross Party Group on Sepsis last week, chaired by my Welsh Conservative colleague Angela Burns AM.
Present at the meeting were a number of survivors who movingly spoke about their own harrowing experiences having survived this extremely serious and life threatening illness.
I am particularly interested in working to build a greater awareness of how quick an infection can lead to the development of Sepsis as there is a distinct lack of awareness as to how quickly Sepsis can strike.
One of those speaking up was a nurse who herself hadn't realised she was suffering from Sepsis and although she miraculously survived, she sadly lost limbs as a direct result of contracting septic shock.
My own father was admitted in September with what we thought was a urinary tract infection, yet on arrival at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd was immediately diagnosed as having developed into Sepsis and was in fact very critically ill. Several weeks later he remains in hospital having battled against the associated effects to his lungs, heart and kidneys, although we are now hoping for his safe return home, thanks to the wonderful care support and treatment provided by the medical teams.
Everyone who spoke at the Sepsis group meeting, to include many clinicians also raised the importance of building a greater awareness of this condition and how more preventative measures are required, to ward off this potentially fatal illness.
Sepsis is preventable, however there must be greater awareness for this illness to be identified and early intervention is vital.
A Public Health campaign – ‘Could it be sepsis?’ – is due to launch in England this week, and we I am making a call to see a similar campaign here.
The two most common causes of Sepsis are chest infection and urinary tract infections, often linked to dehydration, and associated use of catheters in older patients.
During our Welsh Conservative debate on "Older People" last week I raised my concerns around the need for those working within the nursing and care industry to ensure patients are kept well hydrated while in hospital, a care setting, or at home.
Trial projects across Wales have improved the number of visitors and relatives bringing drinks, encouraging patients to drink more. This has leapt from 18% to 63% in some areas trialled, and a pioneering nurse in Gwent has now designed a logo to be placed by beds occupied by those patients who need to drink more, encouraging visitors and relatives to assist with this.
Likewise, nutrition is also crucial to improving recovery prospects in hospital. The risk of malnutrition in hospital is 30% greater for those aged 65+ than those younger, with 40% of patients admitted to a care home from hospital often found to be malnourished.
So how can we help? By raising awareness, visiting your loved ones in hospital and encouraging them to eat and drink a little more.
On Friday, I met with many local hospital volunteers to include Therapy dogs UK, RVS, and the Robins movement. These wonderful individuals, provide such comfort and support for many patients when faced with a long stay in hospital and often help in so many ways talking to patients, and providing such wonderful support. Therapy Dogs UK is a wonderful new movement and they take dogs around the wards and those patients who are animal lovers are given the opportunity to stroke the dogs. This brings immense comfort to some patients, often linking them to their own home setting they are missing whilst being hospitalised.
I am incredibly impressed by such kindness shown by the army of volunteers we have locally, wanting to help and support our elderly, sick, and most vulnerable.
Well Done all.
If you would like more information about Sepsis and it's prevention, please contact me directly and if you wish to become a volunteer yourself helping others, you can search ‘Robin Ward Volunteer BCUHB’ online, or contact the Volunteers Manager, Susan Marriott, on 01978 727164 or Susan.firstname.lastname@example.org