Your journey as an intensive care patient

Receiving intensive care in hospital can be a stressful and emotional experience.

South Metropolitan Health Service (external site) offers intensive care at both Fiona Stanley Hospital and Rockingham General Hospital (external site). The following information helps explain what you may experience during and after your intensive care journey.

You may have been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) because your body was not working as it should due to illness, an accident, or because you were recovering from a major operation.

While you were critically ill in the ICU, you would have been asleep for long periods because you were unconscious or sedated (given a sedative to ease your agitation and help you sleep.)

Some ICU patients find it difficult to remember what happened during their ICU stay. Other patients remember having vivid and upsetting dreams, nightmares or hallucinations. Some people can remember thinking that our ICU staff were trying to hurt them.

These are all normal experiences for a person who has been critically ill and are caused by a number of factors, including their medical condition, their treatments and the medications they received.

Although you may find it difficult to talk about with other people, it is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about and it can be quite helpful.

The following information outlines some of the things you may experience while you are in an intensive care unit and may help you make sense of things you remember.

A male patient lays in a hospital bed

How critical illness affects your body


A male patient in a hospital bed smiles at a person standing beside him

Preparing to leave the ICU


Two female physiotherapists stand either side of an older woman to support her as she walks

Returning home


A female health professional holding a file of papers sits next to another woman on a couch


A male health professional uses a stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat of a woman in a hospital bed

 Returning to daily life    Your emotional wellbeing    


Read about the ICU journey for family and friends

Learn about what family and friends may expect during their ICU journey.

Button reads ICU family journey

Contact our ICUs

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


We gratefully acknowledge the permission of ICU Steps (external site) to adapt its resources in the development of this content.