Intensive Care

Not remembering what happened to you is very common

Patients' memories of Intensive Care can often be hazy or “jumbled”. It can be difficult to piece together what happened before being admitted to Intensive Care, and what happened while you were there. Some people remember only the end of their time in Intensive Care, while others remember almost nothing.

Some people are happy not to remember very much, but for others, "not knowing" can be upsetting. Some people are only ready to find out more in the weeks, months and sometimes years after getting home. Others just want to put it behind them. It's completely up to you whether or not you'd like to find out more about what happened in Intensive Care.

Having strange dreams or nightmares is very common

It's really common to have strange and sometimes 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 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 general 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: Bereavement support for children

We're very sorry for your loss. This link will take you to the website of childbereavement uk. They are a UK-wide organisation who can help support families with children and young adults, when there is a death in the family. They provide a free confidential Helpline, staffed by trained professionals, face-to-face support (in some areas), and helpful leaflets that you can download or print off. Please see their website to find out more.

Article: Blood pressure monitoring

We measure patients' blood pressure in Intensive Care using either a blood pressure cuff (like the one in a GP's practice) or using a device inserted directly into an artery (arterial line), usually the wrist or groin. An arterial line lets us monitor the patient's blood pressure accurately and continuously-helpsing us to identify problems quickly. We can also take blood samples (arterial blood gas samples) which tell us how much oxygen is in the patient's blood....

External Video: Bob describes his intensive care experience

In this short video clip, Bob (a former patient) talks about his time in Intensive Care. You can read interviews,listen to voice recordings and watch clips of other patients' experiences of Intensive Care by using the link to a free website called Healthtalkonline.

Article: Breathing tubes

Breathing tubes Many of the patients in the intensive care unit will need support with their breathing. This may involve passing a plastic breathing tube into the windpipe. There are two types of breathing tubes: Endotracheal (ET) tube: This is a plastic tube placed through the patient’s mouth or sometimes through their nose into the windpipe (trachea). Most patients will need sedation to keep them comfortable while this breathing tube is in place. Tracheostomy tube: This is a...

Article: Catheter (urinary)

Almost every patient in the Intensive care Unit will have a (urinary) catheter during their stay. What is a catheter? It is a small tube that drains urine directly from the patient's bladder into a clear drainage bag. The drainage bag is usually hung by the side of the bed, where it can be easily seen by the nurse.  Why are they used in Intensive Care? A urinary catheter is a flexible tube that is inserted into the bladder to drain urine. This is essential to drain the bladder...

Web Link: Childcare: help with costs

This link will take you to the Government's webpage on childcare and parenting. It offers useful advice on whether and how you can get help with finding childcare if you need to spend time at the hospital.

Web Link: Children and teenagers:where to get support

This weblink takes you to the Winston's wish website; a charity offering advice and support for children and teenagers when someone close is seriously ill or has died. They have produced a number of booklets which can be purchased online. Contact details for a telephone helpline for parents and an email address are also provided.

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).