What should my family expect when visiting the Intensive Care Unit?
It's important to keep in mind when you and your family can visit your loved one, and what kind of help you can provide during those visits. Patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) very often have compromised immune systems, require assistance from a variety of machines and must undergo frequent testing and assessments. There can, therefore, sometimes be too many visitors.
That said, medical professionals never discount the vital part loved ones play in the healing process of their patients. We understand that the true “visitors” in the patient’s life are the family members, rather than the healthcare professionals themselves. For this reason, we encourage families to visit as much as the patient desires and is able to tolerate, without causing discomfort.
The ICU is specially equipped to treat patients whose condition requires continuous cardiac monitoring, increased nursing care hours and/or a more intensive nurse-to-patient ratio. Because of the constant monitoring, there will be a team of healthcare professionals, from registered nurses and dietitians to specialists and intensivists, who will care for your grandmother. It is important for families to know that our number one goal is getting your loved one back to health as quickly as possible.
When you visit, here are a few things you and your family can do to help your loved one:
- Appoint a family spokesperson or two, someone who will be in regular contact with your loved one’s nurses and who can, in turn, inform the rest of the family of her condition, and any changes in her treatment plan, and so forth.
- Stay ahead of your loved one's pain. Often a family member can read a patient’s unspoken cues better than the nurses. Help your loved one stay ahead of her pain by encouraging them to ask for pain medications before they are in pain.
- Make sure your loved one stays in bed if they are restricted to bed rest. The vast majority of patient injuries in hospitals are due to patients trying to get out of bed for restroom visits or other reasons. If your loved one needs to get out of bed, call the nurse.
- If your loved one will be in the hospital for a lengthy stay, bring some comforts of home, such as a favorite pillow or blanket, framed pictures, music and books they enjoy.
- Check with the nurse to see if family members can help your loved one with hygiene such as hair combing, putting on lotion, and so forth. This can help provide a comforting touch, as well as helping your loved one feel better.
- Try to keep visits to two people at a time and for fairly short visits. Your loved one needs to rest, and if they feel the need to entertain guests, they won't get that rest.
- Be sure to keep young children and anyone who is ill away from the ICU, and every visitor must wash their hands before entering the room.
- Lastly, your family members need to remember to take care of themselves as well. It can be exhausting to have a loved one in the hospital, let alone in the ICU. But you will be best equipped to help your loved one if you are well rested and healthy.
- When in doubt, check with your loved one’s nurses. They know their situation best, and they also know the benefits and setbacks visitors can present.
For more information, please call (480) 728-7348.
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