The first ICUsteps support group outside the United Kingdom will open its doors on the 11th March 2015 with the formation of ICUsteps Dublin.

This amazing milestone is the culmination of years of dedication from Barbara Egan. Barbara survived pneumonia and sepsis in month long battle with critical illness in 2005. She pulled through thanks to the dedication of the healthcare professionals in intensive care, but like so many other critical illness survivors, left hospital to face the physical, psychological and cognitive legacy of critical illness alone and without support or rehabilitation. When she first contacted ICUsteps back in 2007, Barbara said

"I spent just under a month in hospital 2 years ago, 2 weeks of that in ICU on a ventilator. I was admitted with pneumonia and septicaemia. I found the experience to be terrifying. My physical recovery has been gradual but I don’t have the energy I used to, I suffer with back pain around my ribcage. My psychological recovery has been slower. I push myself to keep up for the sake of my husband and my two boys.

I have been searching for support groups in Ireland as I feel somewhat isolated. I found your website to be most informative and I read some of the patient experiences. This lessened the isolation, it is hard for others to understand, the whole experience is quite surreal. My initial euphoria of having survived has been replaced with confusion as to how this happened to me, and it's hard to comprehend how I was at that time, I still haven’t come to terms with it."

Barbara Egan

Barbara has worked tirelessly with the support of her family to highlight the desperate need for support and rehabilitation following critical illness to help complete the patient journey and return us to the best possible quality of life to healthcare professionals in Ireland. Her incredible journey reached new heights in October 2014 when she and husband Jimmy successfully completed the Dublin Marathon to raise start-up funds for ICUsteps Dublin.

Barbara and James Egan completing the Dublin Marathon

Barbara and James complete the Dublin Marathon

The group will open its doors on 11th March 2015. As with the original ICUsteps model, critical care nurses are providing healthcare professional involvement in the group voluntarily in their own time but in due course Barbara hopes to foster stronger official bonds between the group and the hospital that saved her life.

The aim of this newly developed, self-funded voluntary group is to provide support to former patients and relatives affected by critical illness. ICUsteps Dublin is an independent group and currently not affiliated with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

So many ICU survivors are left with a desire to use their experience of critical illness and recovery to make a difference to help others like them and repay the debt of gratitude we feel to those dedicated and skilled healthcare professionals who helped save our lives. Barbara's inspirational story illustrates this point perfectly. In addition to founding Ireland's first intensive care patient support group, her determination and drive has also helped healthcare professionals to truly understand that critical illness does not end on discharge from hospital and that patient support is needed long after leaving intensive care to help repair the damage that can be left from surviving critical illness.