Visiting an ICU

An ICU can often be an overwhelming place, both for the patient and their loved ones. It can therefore help to know a little about what to expect.

  • Visiting hours visiting hours are usually very flexible, but there may be times when visiting isn't advised so it's a good idea to check before you arrive. The number of people allowed around the person's bedmay be limited.
  • Hygiene rulesto reduce the risk of spreading infection, you'll be asked to clean your hands when entering and leaving the unit and you may not be able to bring in certain things such as flowers. Avoid visiting if you're ill.
  • How patients may look and behave the person you're visiting may be drowsy andseem confused. They may also appear slightly swollen or have injuries such as bruises or wounds. This can be upsetting to see, but staff willensure they're as comfortable as possible.
  • ICU equipmenta series of tubes, wires and cables will be attached to the patient, which may look alarming at first. Ask staff to explain what these are if you'd like to know.
  • Unfamiliar soundsyoumay hearalarms and bleeps from the equipment. These help staff tomonitor their patients.

You'll usually be free to touch, comfort and talk to the person. It may help them to hear and recognise familiar voices, even if they don't appear to respond.

You might want to tell them about your day, or read them a book or newspaper. You can bring in things to make them more comfortable, but ask staff beforehandif there's anything you shouldn't bring.

The ICU staff will be on hand during your visit to answer any questions you have.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018