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Intensive Care

Not remembering what happened to you is very common

We know from other patients that their memory of Intensive Care can often be hazy or “jumbled”. It can be difficult to piece together what happened in the days and hours before being admitted and what happened while you were there. Some people remember only the end of their time in Intensive Care, while others remember almost nothing at all.

Some people are very glad not to remember very much, while for others, "not knowing" can be upsetting.It's entirely up to you whether or not you'd like to find out more about what happens in Intensive Care.Some people find that they are only ready to find out more in the weeks, months and sometimes years after they get home.

Having strange dreams or nightmares is very common

It's extremely common to have strange and sometimes very frightening dreams or hallucinations (sometimes called "delirium"). They can seem so real that it can be difficult to work out whether they actually happened or not. Making sense of your time in Intensive Care can therefore be difficult. In this section, we've provided examples of other people's experiences, including easy to use links to other websites, where you can watch short video clips or listen to voice recordings from other Intensive Care patients.

Would you like to find out more about what happens in Intensive Care?

Some people find it helpful to "fill in the blanks". Others prefer to put it all behind them. There's no wrong or right, and it's completely up to you whether, when and how you want to find out more. In this section, we’ve provided some information on common equipment and treatments, including how and why they’re used. We’ve also provided some information on routine care, the types of staff involved in your care and the sorts of things they will have done to help you.

 

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Web Link: Children visiting Intensive Care

This link will take you to the Healthtalkonline website and their page on children visiting the Intensive Care Unit, and the impact that having a family member in Intensive Care can have on them.Here, you can watch short videos on other people's experiences of things like telling children about a loved one's illness and taking them into the Intensive Care Unit.

Web Link: Children: a website to support them through a loved one's illness or death

It can be very difficult to know how to tell children and teenagers that a family member is very ill or has died. This link takes you to Winston's wish, a charity supporting bereaved children and young people. It's a very interactive website which includes short videos, podcasts and a blog on other chidrens' experiences.

Web Link: Children: how to tell them that someone is very ill or has died

It can be very difficult to know how to tell children and teenagers that a family member is very ill or has died. This link takes you to Winston's wish, a charity supporting bereaved children, teenagers and their families. They are based in England, but offer a national phoneline for support and resources that you can download (although you may have to pay for some of them).

Document: Confusion (delirium) and Intensive Care

This is a short, easy to read booklet written by ICUSteps.It explains what delirium is, why patients in Intensive Care are often confused, what it feels like for the patient and the things family members can do to help.Some patients continue to be a little confused after they are transferred to the general wards, although this is usually temporary.

Article: Counselling study in NHS Lothian

Counselling for patients and families after Intensive Care: the CONNECT study (NHS Lothian) What is this study about? A number of previous studies have shown that patients and family members can suffer from anxiety and depression (feeling low) after Intensive Care. Some also experience upsetting memories or “flashbacks”. Losing a loved one in Intensive Care can have similar effects. We would like to find out if counselling helps. In this study, we will offer...

Article: CPAP

What is CPAP? (pronounced see pap) CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is another way in which we can help support patients with their breathing. It involves putting a tight fitting mask over the patient's nose and mouth. The mask needs to be tight so that we can deliver extra support using air and oxygen at varying pressures.A transparent hood that fits over the head (rather like a large bubble) can also sometimes be used, as patients often find this much...

Web Link: Diaries in Intensive Care

This link will take you to the Healthtalkonline website and their page on the use of diaries in Intensive Care. Here, you can watch short videos and listen to voice files on other people's experiences of keeping a diary for their loved one.

Article: Diaries in Intensive Care (family information)

What is a diary? A diary is a booklet written for patients about their time in Intensive Care. Some Intensive Care Units use patient diaries and some don’t. They’ve been used for a number of years in other countries, but are only just beginning to be used in the UK. More research is needed to find out if and how they help. Why might (some) patients find a diary helpful? Patients often can’t remember how they ended up in Intensive Care, or what happened...

Article: Diaries in Intensive Care (patient information)

What is a diary? A diary is a booklet written for patients about their time in Intensive Care. Some Intensive Care Units use patient diaries and some don’t. They’ve been used for a number of years in other countries, but are only just beginning to be used in the UK. More research is needed to find out if and how they help. Why might (some) patients find a diary helpful? You might not be able to remember what happened to you in Intensive Care, or have strange...

Web Link: End of life decisions

Sadly, some patients don't survive Intensive Care.In some cases, incredibly difficult decisions have to be made about whether it's in the patient's best interests to continue treatment, when it seems certain that their condition won't improve.We're so sorry, if this is the case for you.It might help to hear about other people's experiences about making these types of decisions, both within the family and with the medical staff on Intensive Care. This link will...