How The Family Can Help

Recommended Actions


1. Take care of yourself. Remember to eat, drink and sleep.

2. Communication

  • - It is common for patients to be frustrated, or not be interested in communicating. Be patient.
  • - Avoid asking questions that cannot be answered easily, especially when intubated - link to glossary.
  • - Use a board so that the patient can point to words such as “pain”, “thirsty”, or “tired”.
  • - Simple hand gestures may work equally well: thumbs up and thumbs down.
  • - Repeat the date and time of day to orientate the patient.
  • - Communicate with rest of family, communicate with ICU team.

3. Assurance

Although the patient may be sedated with medication, there is no harm talking to him or her to assure her.

  • - Speak in a calm, clear manner.
  • - Make short positive statements. “I am here with you and you are doing better and making progress.”.
  • - Acknowledge the discomfort your loved one may be experiencing. "You're are in the ICU and you have a tube to help you breath. This is temporary and the nurses will give you medication to make you more comfortable.”
  • - Touch or hold hands.
  • - Describe what the different noises mean to help ease any fear or anxiety.
  • - Music to ease anxiety.

4. Protection

  • - Wash hands or use disinfectant hand wash to reduce infection risk.
  • - Wear provided gowns or mask if requested by the ICU team.