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Empowering Intensive Care Survivors

Friday, January 15, 2016

An innovative project is improving the health and wellbeing of patients who have been discharged from intensive care units – helping them recover and return to work. 

The five week InS:PIRE programme at Glasgow Royal Infirmary has supported 60 patients and 40 carers since it began 12 months ago. 

Each week patients receive one hour of physiotherapy as a group, as well as individual sessions with health professionals, to help an accelerated recovery and return to employment. Patients are also given a ‘social prescription’ each week to enable them to meet third sector organisations that provide sources of support in their community. 

Patients create personal goals and along with their carers, receive psychological support aimed at coping skills. This is the first programme to also place specific emphasis on recovery for family members.  

Today, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health Jamie Hepburn visited GRI to meet some of the patients who have benefited from InS:PIRE and the staff who have helped them. 

Mr Hepburn said: “I’m really pleased to have been invited to visit GRI today and meet some of the patients who’ve taken part in – and benefited from – the InS:PIRE programme. 

“Due to advances in medical research and care, more people than ever are surviving accidents or illnesses which require a stay in the ICU. This is obviously very welcome news – but those survivors of prolonged critical illness face many challenges in the weeks and months after their discharge. 

“It’s great to see projects like InS:PIRE supporting them to overcome these challenges and return to a full role in society. 

“Through the InS:PIRE programme patients are being empowered to take back control of their health following a period of critical illness, and their families are receiving the help and support that they need to cope with the demands of being a carer.

“I am very impressed with the hard work and dedication of the InS:PIRE project team, whose care and support has improved the lives of many ICU patients and their families. This is exactly the sort of initiative that we want to see supporting those with severe injuries getting work-focussed support as part of their healthcare package.” 

Chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, John Brown said: “I am delighted that the Minister has had the opportunity to see the difference this unique project is making to people’s lives. 

“Experience shows that some ICU survivors can have persistent physical and psychological problems as a direct result of their intensive care stay.

“This initiative is helping ICU patients manage their recovery by giving them and their family members access to additional support and advice.”    


For further information contact | Communications Healthier | Scottish Government | St Andrew’s House, Edinburgh EH1 3DG | 0131 244 6928 | 


InS:PIRE (Intensive Care Syndrome: Promoting Independence and Return to Employment) is a five week rehabilitation programme which focuses on patient education, peer support and the facilitation of self-management. 

  • Key aims of the project are:

o   to improve the health and wellbeing of patients, and empower them to take control of their own health and wellbeing;

o   to increase in the number of ICU survivors who return to work;

o   to decrease the number of GP visits by ICU survivors.

It is also the first such programme to place specific emphasis on recovery for family members, including the provision of psychological support aimed at coping skills.

Evidence, gathered from programme participants; their carers; and staff involved in the project, suggests that it is bringing tangible benefits, including helping post-ICU patients to cope better and feel more in control of their future. 

  • Many of the programme’s participants are now fully engaged with volunteering, with others starting college courses. 

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Last Updated: 11 November 2021