Patients & Families

Useful Resources

Local units

Often the critical care unit’s own staff can provide lots of useful information to patients, family and friends, including details of local chaplaincy and counselling services.

Other ICU resources Provides information and advice for patients and relatives travelling along their Intensive Care journey, from ICU admission right through to getting back to normal life. It is based on over 120 in depth interviews with former Intensive Care patients at different stages of their recovery as well as their families and health care professionals. This resource has been produced by the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with The Health Foundation and with funding from the Scottish Intensive Care Society.

ICU steps – The Intensive Care Unit Support Teams for Ex-Patients (ICUsteps) was founded in 2005 by ex-patients, their relatives and ICU staff to support patients and their families through the long road to recovery from critical illness. ICUsteps is the United Kingdom’s only support group for people who have been affected by critical illness and has helped many former patients, their relatives and medical staff from organisations around the world. Visit their website at

The Intensive Care Foundation Patients and Relatives Committee – The Intensive Care Foundation was formed by the Intensive Care Society in 2003. The ICF Patients and Relatives Committee has produced useful webpages and downloadable leaflets, patient stories and other resouces. Visit their wesbite at

Medikids produce ‘comic-books’ that provide medical information in a way that children can understand. Their booklet – Medikidz explain the Intensive Care Unit – was written with the help of members of the ICF Patients and Relatives Committee. Visit their website at

Sepsis is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. Sepsis leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. It is an extremely common problem for patients in critical care. The UK Sepsis Trust website offers useful information to the public as well as health professionals. Visit their website at The UK Sepsis Trust is one of many supporters of World Sepsis Day ( which aims to increase awareness and treatment of, and subsequently outcome from, sepsis across the world.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a common problem for patients in critical care and often why they need help from the ventilator. Visit the British Lung Foundation’s website for more information

Delirium is a severe state of confusion that is common in critically ill patients. It can be distressing for both the patient and their relatives. For more information about delirium visit

Donation – thinking about donation is an important part of end of life care in the critical care unit. It can be very helpful if families have discussed donation previously with each other and made their wishes known about it. For more information about donation visit

Specific conditions

There is a huge spectrum of conditions which require critical care. It would not be possible to provide resources for all of them.

NHS inform provides a co-ordinated approach and a single source of quality assured health information for the public in Scotland. The website includes an A-Z of health, common health questions and a support service directory. Visit their website at is a reputable, independent, UK based medical resource, supplying evidence based information on a wide range of medical and health topics to patients and health professionals. The directory indexes a huge range of support websites, services and information for patients and carers. Visit their website at

HealthTalkOnline provides information on a range of illnesses and other health-related issues from seeing and hearing people’s real life experiences. Thousands of people have shared their experiences on film to help others understand what it’s really like to have experienced a particular health problem, including intensive care. Visit their website at 

Bereavement & counselling services

Local units will be able offer helpful information about dealing with difficulties during and after an ICU stay, and also with a death. There are many additional sources of help, a few are listed below:

NHS inform provides a co-ordinated approach and a single source of quality assured health information for the public in Scotland. Their bereavement zone offers support and advice from a number of sources. Visit their website at

Cruse Bereavement Care exists to promote the well-being of bereaved people and to enable anyone bereaved by death to understand their grief and cope with their loss. The organisation provides counselling and support. It offers information, advice, education and training services. Visit their websites, and also – a special website for bereaved children and young people with a freephone helpline and personal email help.

Winston’s Wish helps bereaved children and young people rebuild their lives after a family death. They offer practical support and guidance to families, to professionals and to anyone concerned about a grieving child. Visit their website  at

The Samaritans offer a confidential emotional support service for anyone experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours a day) or visit their website at

The Wise Old Sayings website provides a range of resources to support people following losing someone and aims to help them through their grief. Visit their website at