2.11.2010

Dos & Don'ts When Your Loved One is in an ICU




Today I'm participating in Mama's Kat's Writer's Workshop! I was actually already composing this dos and don'ts list, so I was happy to see prompt #4 for this week: A list of dos and don'ts!




As you may already know, I work in an Intensive Care Unit. I have worked here for over 3 years. Part of my job involves interacting with the patient's families, and over the years I've observed a lot. Of course, I hope you never have a loved one in an ICU. Having a loved one in Intensive Care can be very hard on a family, particularly if it's a long stay. But if it does happen, I have a few suggestions that may make it just a little bit easier.

* Do stay overnight when rules permit. Studies have shown that this is very good for the patient. However...
* Do get your rest. Don't wear yourself out. If you need to go home, or to a hotel, go. You're not doing anyone any favors by being a walking zombie, or by getting sick yourself.
* Do ask the front desk clerk if there are local hotels that offer discounts to patient's family members. We have a very long list of hotels in our area who do that. Also, ask if there is a nearby Ronald McDonald House.
* Do learn the rights of the patient and the family. Pay attention to what the nurses and doctors are saying. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself or your loved one, or to question the nurses or doctors.
* Do respect the rules of the unit.
* Do post pictures/photos/cards on the walls, if allowed. Not only will they cheer the patient up, but they remind staff that this patient is loved and cared for.
* Do decorate the room for the holidays. I just love to see that; it shows that someone truly cares about that patient.
* Do bring Krispy Kreme donuts to the staff. Just kidding! {Sort of.}


* Don't wear yourself out. It bears repeating.
* Don't send flowers. Most ICUs and burn units don't allow them. Send balloons, stuffed animals, etc.
* Don't think the staff is heartless when we laugh & joke. We are very caring individuals. However, this is our job, and if we didn't lighten the mood sometimes, we'd burn out very quickly.
* Don't call and say "I wanna see/speak to my mama." Please say the patient's name. First and last.
* Don't call over and over. This takes away time that the nurse needs to spend caring for your family member. Call once per shift, twice at the most. If there are significant changes, the nurse will call you (or the legal next of kin).
* Don't bring your neighbor's sister's cousin's ex-boyfriend into the ICU to visit. Keep it to close family members. Keep visits of young children short.
* Don't bring in food and eat it in front of a patient who can't eat. That's just rude, people.
* Don't forget the Krispy Kreme donuts. Just kidding! {Sort of.}

24 comments:

Amanda said...

We've had to have Ella in the ICU before ~ not a fun expeirence, but we were lucky to have such wonderful staff!

debi9kids said...

Great list! My dad was in ICU for a LONG time following his double lung transplant and then 2 years later, an even LONGER stay in ICU when he has a massive stroke... It was VERY trying on everyone in my family. (it's a shame my mom didn't read this note. She wore herself VERY thin back then...)

Erin said...

LOVE Krisy Kreme! And let me just say...from someone who's dealt with my baby being in the NICU and family members being in ICU over the years....YOU. ARE. A. GOD SENT! I admire your strength to do that, and when you laugh and joke, it reminds me that you are not a super hero, you are human and it makes my heart a little lighter to hear some laughter!

Perfect list!

gaelikaa said...

I loved your list. It's something that I'd never really thought of. But it's good to know. I also had a list of dos and don'ts, but in a different direction.

Well done.

4 Lettre Words said...

Love Krispy Kreme!!!

P.S. you WON my jewelry giveaway!

cat said...

Oh I love your lists.

Tara R. said...

Excellent advice. I won't forget the KKs if we ever have a loved one in ICU, and think of you.

mommydrinksbecauseyoucry said...

Great list. Hopefully I never have to use your list but, I'm a big fan of "tipping" the nurses. You guys have hard jobs!!!! You deserve a little something extra!

qandlequeen said...

I have nothing but rave reviews for the staff when my son was in ICU. I loved that there was a window seat that converted into a quick bed for me to stay the night - I was so terrified I would have to leave.

I wish I had bothered to learn the nurses' names. One stands out in my memory as she came in every hour to check on him. She took his whining in stride and even bantered back with him. It was clear he was improving as he kept negotiating to have the catheter removed and she kept refusing. She was truly concerned and was visibly happy to see his improvement. I wish I knew her name to let her know she made a difference.

Tammie said...

this is a great list. i didnt know that about the flowers.

also, have people really complained/commented about laughing, joking nurses? ive only ever been in the hospital for childbirth but i loved seeing the nurses happy, as opposed to the mean grumpy ones-even if i myself wasnt necessarily at my cheeriest. (not that there are a lot of grumpy mean nurses, but all you need is one to ruin the whole hospital stay.)

anyway, thanks for doing what you do!

Manic Mother said...

Do I sense a weakness for Krispy Kreme? I am more of a Dunkin Donuts girl myself. Good pointers!

Sorry I haven't responded to your email about your blog, what are you wanting done to it?

Mama Wheaton said...

We've been in ICU before and the staff was caring and so wonderful. I love the cartoon! (hate the garments they make you wear)

pinkknotes said...

This is a great list... the next time we go on hospital visitations, I'm going to bring Krispy Kremes for the ICU staff :)

(found you from MK)

shortmama said...

great tips that I hope I never have to use!

Kimmy said...

That is just too funny!! What a great list though :o)

Stopping by from Mama Kat's!

Life with Kaishon said...

This is a really great list! Such a good idea to make for families. I wish you could type this up and give it to new families when their loved one comes into the hospital.

LceeL said...

I'm going to print out this post, laminate it and carry it in my wallet - right next to the "In Case Of Emergency" card. Just in case.

Michael and Shelley said...

Great list! It was interesting because your list was related to your job. Thanks for sharing!

blueviolet said...

My first ICU visit and hopefully my last was about a year and a half ago with my dad and your advice is excellent. I think it was the most emotionally draining, horrid experience of my entire life.

Katie said...

great list of things to remember. Especially love the decoration and perfect touches one. and i'll remember about the donuts for next time.

marfmom said...

This is great! I'm going to link back to it as one of my "Friday Favorites" for tomorrow, if that's ok. :-) I run a blog about Marfan syndrome and we spend a lot of time in hospitals!

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

LOVE THIS LIST!!!

I love Krispy Kreme

Christina said...

Great tips. The ICU is no fun.

Jenners said...

This was excellent ... very helpful and compassionate. And the next time I have the misfortune to have someone I love in the ICU, I will remember the Krispy Kremes.