Frequently asked questions: ICU

How do you make decisions about patient care in ICU?

In healthcare, patients should always take part in any decision making as far as they may wish to. In certain circumstances however, their involvement may not be possible. In ICU this may  be because they are unwell and not able to communicate their wishes for a variety of reasons. In these situations we work with the patient’s next of kin (or key contact) to make decisions in the patient’s best interests. As a next of kin (or key contact), you can help us by explaining to us any wishes the patient may have expressed to you about their life or care. It also helps for us to know any beliefs, values or factors the person would be taking into account should they be able to make the decision for themselves.

My relative/friend is in ITU and I’m struggling; where can I go for help?

It is understandably an incredibly difficult time when a relative/friend is unwell, especially when they are unwell enough to require intensive care. Please know that as the team looking after them, we see supporting you and your family as an important part of their care and we are here to support wherever we can.

You may also find it helpful to reach out for further support. Your GP is a good place to start, even if it is just to let them know what is happening so that they might be able to support you in taking time away from work, or helping you to get in touch with psychological support services or local support groups. Our chaplaincy-spiritual care team also offers a multi-faith non-denominational service of support, which many families and friends have found a great source of comfort.

As recommended by NHS UK, the following websites can also be useful sources of more information and support:

  • ICU steps: A charity and support group for ICU patients and their loved ones that produces a detailed intensive care guide
  • Intensive Care Society: A professional body that provides information about intensive care for patients and relatives
  • healthtalk.org: A website that has information about patient experiences of intensive care
  • HealthUnlocked intensive care forum: A forum for ICU patients and their loved ones