Patients & Families

Visiting (and not visiting) the critical care unit

Visiting the unit

Every unit has its own visiting times, and you’ll be told when they are by staff. Mornings are busy in the ICU with ward-rounds, tests and procedures so visiting is usually in the afternoon and evening, sometimes with a quiet period for part of the afternoon to allow patients to rest. Most units ask that there are only two visitors at a time, so as not to tire the patient and to allow the staff to care for the patient in the limited space around the bed. Visiting times are often decided upon not only to let the patient see their family and rest between times, but to let the family have time away from the hospital too.

If there is something happening on the unit during visiting that requires the staff’s utmost attention you might be asked to go back to the waiting room, please bear with them, they’ll get you back in as soon as they can. Visiting with young children can be hard, and it is always a good idea to discuss this with the staff on the unit beforehand to plan the visit.

If the patient’s condition is worsening, staff will make arrangements for more people by the bed-space, and won’t be strict about visiting times.

Looking after yourself

When a loved one is very ill in hospital it is easy to forget about yourself. It is important to get some rest if you can, and remember to eat and drink. Spending some time in the waiting room during visiting can recharge your batteries, and sharing your experiences with other families facing the same problems is often helpful. It is ok to leave for a while, the staff will call you immediately if they need you to come back.

Getting more help

Sometimes families live far away from the hospital and the unit usually has information about local hotels and guest houses, as well as places to eat. A few specialist hospitals may offer accommodation, others can help with vouchers for the canteen or parking information. Ask the unit you are visiting for any help you need.

The hospital chaplain can visit you if you wish or you may prefer to talk to a representative of another faith, staff will try to arrange this for you whenever possible.