Helping a loved one in intensive care

Whether your loved one is in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Fiona Stanley Hospital or Rockingham General Hospital (external site), there are opportunities for you to participate in their care if you wish.

Nominate one family member as the ICU contact person

One way you can help the staff caring for your loved one is by choosing one next-of-kin family member or friend to be the nominated ICU contact. Staff will tell this nominated contact how your loved one is doing and that person can pass information to other family and friends. This saves time for both staff and families.

Daily questions your nominated contact can discuss with ICU staff could include:

  • What is the goal for today?
  • Has there been significant change in their condition or prognosis?
  • Are any investigations, tests, scans or surgery scheduled?
  • Are any new medications being given?
  • If the person is on a ventilator, has there been any improvement or are there plans to wean them off the ventilator or remove it?

Help care for your loved one

Our ICU nurses may ask you to bring in some of your loved one’s personal belongings, such as their favourite perfume or music, to help their recovery.

Talking to your loved one may also help. While it can be difficult to keep up a one-sided conversation, talking about shared experiences and good times can make you feel better too. You could also try reading to them from a newspaper, magazine or book.

Even if your loved one is conscious, you may find it hard to communicate with them. If they can’t speak, they may be able to write, or spell out words by pointing to some letters, numbers and common words written on paper.

Some people find it helpful to actively care for a loved one while they are in the ICU. Depending on your loved one’s condition this may not be possible, but if you want to help in this way, ask our staff. You may be able to help by brushing your loved one’s hair or massage and moisturise their hands and feet.

Keep a diary

Some people find it helpful to keep a diary of what is happening during their loved one’s ICU journey to track small improvements.

As your loved one recovers, they may have very confused memories of their time in the ICU or no memories of it at all. Sharing this diary with them can help them understand what happened while they were in the ICU and fill in gaps in their memory.

ICU patients are often provided with a patient diary.

Always take steps to prevent infection

Infection control is extremely important in the ICU because patients can easily pick up infections. It is essential all visitors follow our hygiene rules, including:

  • using evaporative alcohol-based hand rub when walking in and out of the ICU
  • not touching equipment
  • not sitting on the patient’s bed
  • not bringing flowers and plants to the ICU.

If your loved one is being nursed in isolation, our staff will advise you on other special measures that may be needed.


Return to ICU information for family and friends

Button reads ICU family journey

Contact our ICUs

Contact the ICU at Fiona Stanley Hospital or Rockingham General Hospital (external site).