Healthcare workers across the world have been facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, critical care workers have had to deal with several issues, including a surge of seriously ill patients, shortages of staff and resources, long shifts, exhaustion, risk of infection, fear of transmission to family, constant exposure to illness and the tragedy of patient deaths. In addition, they have to practice social isolation and have lost access to support from family and friends during this time. Critical care workers have also managed emotionally and ethically challenging decisions related to resource rationing and treatment provision.
There is no doubt that these factors impact the physical and mental wellbeing of critical care workers. Stress, anxiety and depression are on the rise. Burnout, which was already a problem before the pandemic, is becoming an even bigger issue. Shortage of personal protective equipment, increased workload, working in new and unfamiliar areas, and the overall stress and fatigue due to the pandemic are taking their toll on the wellbeing of healthcare workers.
In this issue, our contributors discuss Wellbeing in the ICU. I present an overview of strategies and measures that can be implemented to improve the wellbeing of staff and patients in the ICU. Mercedes Ibarz and Antonio Artigas discuss the challenges of managing sepsis in very old patients and the importance of early identification and treatment in this patient population.
Laura Hawryluck and Rima Styra discuss the psychological impact of the pandemic on ICU teams and provide practical guidelines to help build personal and team resilience. Robert Alexander Jones-Baro et al. provide an overview of the key elements that fall under the meaning of humanisation as part of the ICU Liberation bundle.
Julie Darbyshire highlights the importance of creating a psychologically safe workplace and the need for a shift in workforce culture and more compassionate leadership. Shahla Siddiqui et al. present findings from a clinical study on the impact and contributing factors of stress, anxiety and depression among ICU staff during the pandemic.
In our Matrix section, George Ntuomenopoulos and Aymeric Le Neindre explore the potential of point-of-care ultrasound on clinical decision making at the bedside and the need to add it as a diagnostic tool by intensive care physiotherapists. In our Management section, Fernando Jose da Silva Ramos et al. discuss the top five priorities for a new ICU director during their first year.
It is important to support and protect critical care workers because they are our biggest assets in this battle against coronavirus. Healthcare workers also have to continue to provide care to patients who have other illnesses, and they have to do so with the same commitment and dedication. The psychological distress they are experiencing during these times requires focus and attention. It is important to address issues related to the safety of our workers and to ensure they have the support and protection they need not only for their physical wellbeing but also for their emotional and mental state.