Intensive care: experiences of family & friends

Lack of support and information

Many people felt there was a lack of support for ICU patients when they were discharged from hospital and recovering at home. Some said they were shocked and disappointed when the ill person had come back home but hadn't received any physiotherapy or other treatment, even though they'd still been extremely weak and immobile. One man said he had to pay for his wife to have physiotherapy privately and felt that they'd only started receiving the emotional support they needed when they joined a local support group. 

Some people said they'd worried about a lack of support for ICU patients during recovery, which meant they failed to discover whether the ill person was being adequately cared for when they got home. 

Some felt that, had it not been for the care of relatives, the ill person might not have recovered and they were concerned about what they felt was a gap in health care provision. A few stressed the importance of ICU follow-up clinics in getting information and support. 

One man said he'd become his wife's full-time carer and they'd had no other support. He would have liked some practical help but felt there was none available. 

One woman was angry and disappointed when her husband had been sent home with medication that caused him further problems. Like a few other people we spoke to, she was surprised when she contacted her GP and he hadn't known that her husband had been in hospital. Several felt that there was a lack of communication between hospital staff and GPs. 

Some people felt that there was very little support not only for ICU patients once they'd left hospital but also for their relatives. One woman said she would have liked emotional support after her mother's critical illness because she'd felt angry and 'forgotten'. 

Some people had been disappointed in the lack of support or concern shown by their families. One man said that none of his siblings asked about or came to visit his wife while she'd been in hospital or when she was recovering at home, and this had been upsetting and disappointing. Another said very few of his wife's family had visited her in ICU or offered support.

For more information on support after intensive care see our 'Resources' section.

Last reviewed May 2015.

Last updated February 2013.

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