After 18 months in the making, the inaugural ICUsteps Congress was held on April 1st in Milton Keynes, where our organisation began in 2005. We were delighted at the response with over 50 delegates attending from across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Delegates at the ICUsteps congress

Delegates at the ICUsteps congress

Representatives came from many of our established local groups, as well as a few new groups that are just starting up. This congress was the first opportunity member groups have had to come together to network, share good practice, and discuss challenges as well as learning more about our national work and exploring opportunities to collaborate.

The day began with a presentation from co-founders Chief Executive Peter Gibb and Chair Mo Peskett about how ICUsteps has evolved from a local patient and relative intensive care support group to become a national charity with twenty member groups across the country and providing representation on range of key national critical care groups and organisations. They continued by discussing support groups in more detail, what ICUsteps currently provides but more importantly what we can achieve collectively in the future by working together with member groups.

Catherine White, Information Manager, then gave an informative presentation on the impressive array of resources available from ICUsteps. These include 'Intensive Care: a guide for patients and relatives' (which has had an amazing distribution of over 180,000 copies and has been translated into 16 different languages), 'Sepsis: a guide for patients and relatives', our new children's booklet 'Visiting the Intensive Care Unit' and information sheets on a range of topics including head injuries and delirium.

Last but not least on the morning agenda, Dr Christina Jones, retired Nurse Consultant and Research Manager for ICUsteps presented on our involvement in clinical research. This is an area of our work which continues to grow, with interest both nationally and internationally. Christina spoke about educational resources that are available for patients and relatives who would like to become more involved in research and ended with a reminder that we need more volunteers to help improve critical care by giving researchers the vital perspective that only patients and relatives can add.

Lunch was a great opportunity for everyone to network and it was hugely motivating to see how passionate people are about ICUsteps and the time and dedication they have given to their local support groups.

The afternoon sessions were much more open and provided the chance for everyone to participate in discussions around our three main work streams - support groups, information and research. It was a lively debate that could have continued for some time, and we have no doubt will at future congresses.

The congress was a huge success. There was a feeling of great positivity from the day, with delegates telling us they found it inspiring and informative. There was great interest in this being a yearly event, which we hope to be able to do - but in the meantime the day has left us with optimism for the future of ICUsteps. With many thanks to all those who attended on the day, and a heartfelt thank you to all our supporters for everything they do to help ICU patients and relatives on their long road to recovery.