Resource type: Article

Coping with transfer to the ward

It's not always easy or even possible to prepare patients for transfer out of Intensive Care and onto the general wards.Intensive Care beds are in great demand and it's often impossible to predict when a bed might be needed for someone else.Although we try to avoid it as best we can, this sometimes means that patients are transferred out with little warning.

From one to one care to "one of many"

Patients often tell us that transfer to the wards can be a bit of a culture shock.It can take a while to adjust from having one nurse looking after you to being "one of many".

"You are taken from somewhere where you get 24 hour care, with a nurse at the end of your bed...and you're suddenly plonked somewhere where you're one of maybe 24 or 30 patients that three or four nurses are trying to look after, all at the same time". 

Don't be afraid to ask for the help you need

Other patients have told us that they sometimes felt that the ward nurses didn't seem to understand how ill they'd been,or how much help they needed with things like washing and dressing.Patients themselves sometimes take a little time to realise how much help they actually need. You may also feel reluctant to ask for help because you feel that the nurses are too busy or that "there's always someone else worse off".

"I'm a great believer in the squeaky wheel syndrome. If you don't say anything, the staff assume you're okay, you know?If they don't know your situation, then they're not going to really worry about you...just ask and keep asking." 

But...you may have to wait

You will find,however,that there are less staff around and that you may have to wait for any help you need.

"If you need something, it doesn't just happen immediately, because they (the nurses) are looking after somebody else". 

Give yourself time to adapt

Patients sometimes tell us that going to the general ward can initially feel like a backwards step, but that they gradually learn to adapt to reduced levels of care. 

"You've got to alter your whole attitude. You've just got to accept that it's totally different"

"You're very passive in Intensive Care, because you just can't do anything for yourself...but when you get to the wards,you have to turn that around...to being more active and taking some of the responsibility for your own recovery"

Remember that you're one step closer to getting home!

"For me,going to the ward was a massive positive.It meant I was one step closer to the door.There are two doors you can leave (hospital) by...and I was going out the front one (laughs)"