Important Information About ICU

Visiting Hours And Rules

We would like to assist you as much as possible to be able to visit your family member or friend in ICU. We suggest only close family & friends should visit at this stressful time and generally only one or two people can visit the patient at any one time. Friends and family can visit patients 24 hours a day however it is preferable to visit between 7am and 9pm to enable you and your loved one to rest overnight. You may sometimes be asked to wait outside e.g. during nursing staff handovers (7:00am-7:30am, 7pm - 7.30pm ) or during medical procedures. From 7:00am to 9:30pm, ask the ICU receptionist to call the bedside nurse to check if it is a suitable time for visitors. Outside these hours, use the phone next to the entry of the unit to call before you go in.

Infection Prevention

We need everyone's help to reduce the spread of infections to our patients.


• Do not visit if you are unwell with cold/flu symptoms or diarrhoea/vomiting

• Use the alcohol-based hand rub every time you enter and leave the unit and the patient's bedside

• Do not bring food/drink/flowers/plants/soft toys into the patient’s room

• Do not sit on the patient’s bed

What Things Can I Bring?

Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, soap, shaving equipment etc.

Photos of family/ friends

Other things to consider might include:

• Personal music device (with headphones)
• CDs
• I-pad/tablet/small laptop (movies to watch, photos, music, typing for communication...)

• Magazines/books/newspapers

Label everything with the patient’s name so it doesn't get lost

Being Involved In Care

Talk to your loved one & touch them (even if they can’t talk back, they may be able to hear you and gain comfort from your voice/ touch/ presence).

Bring in things they might like (if they are awake enough)

Consider keeping a diary of their time in ICU for them to look at later as they are unlikely to remember much of their time in ICU:

• Things that happened to them

• People who visited

• Things that happened to other family members during their time in ICU

Please feel free to talk to the bedside nurse about other ways you can be involved.

What To Expect When You're Visiting

When you enter the cubicle of your loved one, you might notice a number of pieces of equipment in the room, such as a monitor displaying numbers on the screen, pumps which deliver medication, and ventilators which are used to help some patients with their breathing. Your loved one might be sedated with medication to help us deliver their treatment.

They might be unable to speak to you because of breathing tubes or the nature of their illness, but they may still be able to hear you.

What To Expect In ICU

When a patient arrives in the ICU they will be cared for by a team of doctors and nurses. Blood tests and X-Rays are often performed. Depending on how unwell the patient is, potentially life saving invasive treatments may need need to begin immediately. Wherever possible the doctors will talk to a patient or their lover ones about a procedure, but if it is urgent and life saving it will be done if the doctors think that this is what anyone else would want done in the same situation. This website contains information about many of these procedures.
Patients will often be sedated and the bedside nurse will adjust the sedation to ensure that the patient isn’t uncomfortable. If a breathing tube has been inserted, the bedside nurse will need to suction secretions from the lungs with a soft, flexible tube. This can be uncomfortable so the nurse may increase the sedation or painkillers first. Most patients in intensive care need to have a catheter in the bladder to measure how much urine they are making. Patients will also need to be turned every few hours to prevent bedsores from forming. Most patients are given medications to try to prevent common complications or being seriously unwell. A low dose blood thinner with be given to prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs and an anti-acid medication will be given to prevent stomach ulcers. Most patients will be on a continuous infusion (drip) of a sedative and a painkiller. These are very closely monitored by the bedside nurse. Patients will also often be on an infusion of a medicine to increase the blood pressure. Many patients will be fed a high energy, high protein feeding solution via a tube from the nose into the stomach. If the patient is unable to tolerate the feed (usually because of surgery on the gut, or temporary gut failure from being very unwell) they will receive a similar nutrition solution intravenously. Sometimes a blood transfusion will be needed urgently.