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What is Aftercare? | This Month’s thoughts

When you think about Thames Valley Air Ambulance, you probably think of our helicopter and our critical care response cars. You might imagine our doctors and paramedics bringing the hospital to the patient when they need it most.

But, did you know, our care extends well beyond the day someone is seriously ill or injured?

There’s no time limit to Aftercare. We’re here for the long haul. Whether it’s the day after someone comes home from hospital, six weeks later, or even a year after the event. If memories of trauma are still in your life, if you’re trying to cope with the effects of loss or the repercussions of injury, then we are here for you.

There’s no time limit to Aftercare. We’re here for the long haul.

Lorraine Bint, Patient Liaison Manager

You may have read the news this week that a generous donation has allowed us to expand this part of our service, which is where I come in. My name is Lorraine and I have been brought in to help Adam, Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s Head of Aftercare.

I worked as a paramedic for 24 years. I loved the variety of it and that every day was different. But I’d finish my shift and never know what happened to the person pulled out of a car wreckage, or whether the cardiac arrest patient went on to have a full recovery. I would remember the faces of family members and think “how are they doing now?”

I began to get interested in the journey people go on after someone is critically ill or injured. The road to recovery is different for everyone. For some patients, being discharged from hospital is only the start. Somehow, they must come to terms with what happened and work out what the future looks like. There are also those who don’t come home. For the loved ones who have lost someone close to their heart, who might have seen them in a particularly distressing state, the knock-on effect can be huge.

It was when I started volunteering at a hospice that I saw the value I could bring beyond the scene. I would visit people and talk about their end-of-life plans. I would ask questions that others were perhaps too nervous to ask. In doing so, we started a conversation where I could advocate for them. I decided to retrain as a counsellor, hoping to bring my knowledge of the healthcare sector to a role where I could support and empower people on their journey.

Then the position came up in Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s Aftercare team. It was like everything I had been working towards was slotting into place. The role would allow me to balance my medical background with my passion for supporting people. I could provide a safe space for people to ask the questions they had been too afraid to ask or just simply to admit “I am not OK”.

The role of our Aftercare team is to be there for someone when their life has turned upside down. When they are juggling a hundred and one things, we are there to listen, to explain and to signpost to extra resources.  

Every act of generosity, large or small, helps us care for people when they need us.

Lorraine Bint, Patient Liaison Manager

There’s no typical day in Aftercare. We identify anyone we think could benefit from our support and get in touch. That first phone call might last 20 minutes, or it could last 90. It can be difficult not to be affected by the stories you hear, but my training helps me to feel someone’s pain but not absorb it and the charity always encourages us to make time to decompress.

It’s a real privilege to do this job and we could not do it without the support of our community. With further team expansion round the corner, it’s incredible to think how many lives will be touched by this amazing donation.

Every act of generosity, large or small, helps us care for people when they need us – whether it’s playing the lottery, volunteering at an event, or donating to one of our appeals. I may be the one wearing the uniform, but you’re all part of our team.

Watch the video below to find out more about our Aftercare service.