Critical Care Network of Northern Ireland

A collaborative group of Critical Care Units in Northern Ireland

Home Patient Experiences
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Frequently asked questions:

It is frightening to find that someone close to you has been admitted to a critical care unit, but an experienced team will work to ensure that the patient’s problems are addressed while they are kept as comfortable as possible. We ask you to be patient and help us in this task.

How can I help?

First: please take care of yourself. Proper food and sleep will help you to cope with the information you will be given by the critical care team. Staying awake all night will wear you down and can make you prone to illness. Do not feel you have to be available every moment; there is always someone watching over your relative.

Second: please respect the privacy of other patients and families, and be considerate by limiting noise.
Two immediate family visitors at a time are acceptable. If circumstances demand it then the nurse in charge will allow larger numbers. When visiting ring the bell at the entrance and wait for a nurse.

Third: you must use alcohol hand rub on your hands before and after visiting. Containers of hand rub are found at the entrance and at every bed space. A nurse may ask you to wear an apron or wash your hands if special conditions apply

Can I speak to the doctor?

You should expect to speak to a Consultant for updates on any weekday afternoon or by appointment. Ask the nurse in charge to make this appointment for you. If possible advise other family members about these meetings but understand that in stressful situations you may not recall everything that is discussed. A useful tip is to write down your question and make a quick note of the answer especially if you then have to explain things to others.

What can I expect to see in a Critical Care Unit?

 There will be a nurse nearby who can explain the collection of tubes and equipment that you see when you come to the bedside. Please don’t touch the equipment. It’s generally all right to touch the patient unless they are deeply sedated but check with the nurse. Even if sedated, feel free to read to your relative, or play music to them through earphones, as it can be difficult to continue a one-way conversation.

Can my relative talk to me?

Remember speaking may be difficult or impossible for the patient depending on their therapy. The effort of communication can be tiring for some especially if there are many visitors. There will be sheets of paper for writing, or laminated cards with letters/pictures on them so that the patient can point to spell words. It is time consuming but worthwhile.

They don’t seem to understand me?

Patients in the unit, although often sedated, are usually sleep deprived. As they recover, they may be confused about events or even suffer from hallucinations. We will treat their anxiety and pain but understand it takes time for drugs and the toxins associated with illness to leave the body before natural sleep returns

Where can I get more information?

Don’t forget the bedside nurse is an invaluable source of information but sources of information are provided on the links page.

How can I provide feedback?

Use the links to our questionnaire or just e-mail a comment. Remember CCaNNI cannot become involved in individual cases.


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