Intensive care: experiences of family & friends

Messages to others

The people we talked to passed on messages of advice to others, based on their own experience. Everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for someone else. Here are their comments:


  • Trust the staff. The patient is in good hands and will receive the best care and treatment available.
  • Ask questions and for information as this will help you understand and cope with what's happening.
  • No matter how ill or injured the patient is, don't give up hope. Try and stay as positive as possible.
  • Take each day as it comes.
  • Keeping a diary will be helpful later, in filling the gaps for the patient and for doctor's appointments after the ill person has been discharged from hospital.

Looking after yourself

  • Don't expect to be able to do everything you'd normally do as well as visiting ICU. This situation can be physically as well as emotionally exhausting.
  • Accept help and support, whether that is with domestic chores or emotional matters.
  • Look after yourself. You will need to be strong for when the patient is recovering and needs your support. Make sure you eat and don't become dehydrated.
  • Try to stay balanced and make time for yourself after visiting ICU so you can recharge.

When the ill person is back home

  • Try to get as much support as possible.
  • Be there for the ill person. Be patient and supportive and, if the ill person is feeling low or depressed, bolster them.
  • Take one day at a time and acknowledge small improvements.
  • Keep notes on the improvements the ill person is making, even if this means taking photos or a video, because there will be a lot the ill person won't remember and it helps them see how far they've come.

Last reviewed August 2018.


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