The visit of an intensive care unit (ICU) can be perceived as both unpleasant and intimidating. The environment is full of technical equipment, and the patients are connected to that equipment with wires and tubes. Before the first visit to the ICU you will receive information from the staff about the environment in which your loved one is cared for
The environment in the ICU
Doctors and nurses will give you regular and recurring information throughout the hospital stay. There will not be an answer to every question, as it can be hard to predict outcomes when someone is very ill. The staff can explain what they do and update you on changes in your loved one’s condition.
It is common that the ICU has no fixed visiting hours, but you as a related person will agree with the staff on possible visiting times.
We also welcome children coming to visit. Studies have shown that children can cope with visiting critically ill relatives at the ICU. Children often have a vivid imagination, which at times is worse than reality. It may be important for them to come and see the sick relative for themselves.
Information sheets are usually available on practical items such as phone numbers for the department, parking facilities and where to eat. Do not forget to leave a phone number where staff can reach you. During the most critical time, there is usually a guest room or rest room where people not living in the area can get some rest.
Your own health
In order to be of support to someone who is very ill, you as a relative must also take care of yourself. It is important to eat and rest regularly to be able to support the sick person. There is usually a counselor who can help you if you need to talk to someone or if you have practical problems such as, e. g., certificates, finances and how to pay the bills when someone gets sick. The staff knows how to get in touch with the counselor. They can also refer you to a priest or other spiritual advisor if you wish.
If you feel that you are not well and need medical assistance, please contact your doctor at the health center.
Patients that are being treated in the ICU may experience acute disorientation. Telltale signs may be psychomotor agitation, hyperactivity in the form of anxiety, pickiness and sometimes acting out of character. Abnormal sensations such as nightmares, unreal experiences and hallucinations may occur. Unreal experiences or derealization can be difficult to distinguish from reality for the sick person, and can be experienced as both pleasant and unpleasant. Factors that influence the occurrence of derealization may be the severity of illness, and to be cared for with ventilators, drugs and unnatural sleep rhythms.
Transition to ordinary ward
When your loved one’s treatment is completed at the ICU, a post-period treatment often takes place in a nursing department. The level of care in the nursing department is lower than at the ICU, and staffing levels at the department are also lower. This means that the staff have more patients per person that they have to take care of.
After your loved one has been constantly monitored by staff and connected to equipment in the ICU, it may feel discomforting not to have staff around constantly. If you are worried, talk to the staff about it, but the transition to a lower level of care is an entirely normal process of recovery, and the staff are there for your loved one's continued care and rehabilitation.