Children with parents and relatives in ICU

When someone close to a child is being treated in ICU that child can find it extremely difficult to understand what is happening. You may find that the Medikidz Explain The Intensive Care Unit book can help to explain the why's and wherefores of ICU in a way they can relate to.

For titles from the Medikids series go to

Relative Related Research

As a group we are very aware of the lack of support and help for relatives and are happy to assist with related research projects in any way we can. One area that we currently support is an investigation into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the adult relatives of intensive care unit survivors.

Family satisfaction With Care in the Intensive Care Unit

How are we doing? - Your opinion about the family member's recent admission to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Click here to download the survey results (pdf)

Call 4 Concern Service

The Royal Berkshire Hospital is the first in the country to empower patients and relatives in an innovative way. The hospital has implemented a ‘Call 4 Concern’ (C4C) system that enables patients and their relatives to directly access the critical care outreach team if they have concerns about the patient's condition that they feel is not being acknowledged by the ward teams. The Critical Care Outreach team and an early warning scoring system has been in place in the RBH since 2001, and its remit is to support and assist ward staff in the early detection and appropriate management of deteriorating ward patients. The introduction of the C4C service is just an additional safety net to ensure the highest quality of care for the patients. C4C was inspired by the Condition H(elp) system developed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Centre in the United States. Condition H(elp) was set up there in 2005 as a result of the case of an 18 month old child, Josie King who died in 2001 due to hospital errors and poor communication. Josie’s mother and others have campaigned tirelessly in the USA to give patients and relatives more involvement in patient care issues.

The C4C service has received very positive feedback from patients and relatives and is available across the whole site for anyone who has concerns about a patient’s condition. For more information on C4C visit the hospitals website.

Mandy Odell Critical Care Nurse Consultant
Mobile: 0777 475 1352

Relatives Experience

My husband Chris was admitted to ICU from A&E in the early hours of a cold Sunday morning in November 2009 with community acquired pneumonia. I received a phone call at about 7.30 am. They said not to be alarmed but that he was transferred there during the night as he was having difficulty breathing. Thankfully they had told us this was likely to happen so it wasn't the huge shock it could have been. On arriving at ICU I found Chris hooked up to various monitors and a number of intravenous drips. He looked relaxed and comfortable considering what was going on. Within a few minutes the team of a consultant, doctors and nurses met around his bed for a review of the situation.

Don't expect me to understand or remember 90 per cent of what was said (memory is a wonderful thing that you can happily forget some of the detail) but I remember a voice shouting in my head. Oh my god how scary is all this. But within a few minutes of listening I was overwhelmed with how amazing this team were. They were all calm, extremely professional and caring for both of us. A nurse was with him all the time, checking all the monitors, making notes and answering my many questions. They always took the time to speak to me and explain what was happening.

Relatives Experience

Later on that day they intubated Chris whilst my son and I had popped out to get some food. When we arrived back, Chris looked better a little stressed but not struggling to breathe. I sat with Chris for the rest of the day until about nine. We were both exhausted so I went home to rest and leave Chris to sleep. Looking back I was amazed at how I was able to leave him but I knew he was in very capable hands.

The next day was similar to Sunday. Chris’s parents and our other son came to visit. I think they felt better after seeing him and seeing how well he was looked after.

As Chris couldn't speak he wrote notes. Some not making a lot of sense but at least I could still communicate with him. The next couple of days followed the same pattern. I would arrive; the team would come and do their assessment. He was no worse and slowly responding to the treatment.

On the fifth day they started to talk of extubating him, which they did. I was despatched to go and buy him some pyjamas and other bits and pieces for him, which I dutifully did. When I got back he was sat out of bed. It was like a miracle. That night I went home and did the usual round of phone calls telling them all how much better he was. Next morning I was asked to get some clothes for him as he was coming home. Home! But he was only connected to all that equipment a few days before. Anyway there he was dressed and ready to go. They had said to him if he could get up go to the loo on his own have a shower and walk about then they would think about transferring him to another ward. Well there he was trotting about talking to everyone and making sure that everyone could see he was better.

Fortunately there was not a bed free in another ward so Chris convinced them he should go home. And that's what happened six days after being admitted to ICU the stubborn old bugger walked out and came home. It was a very rare occasion that I was lost for words. It was a miracle but one that came about because of a professional, well trained team of experts who in a very calm methodical way dealt with a life threatening situation. Not only did they heal Chris they cared for me through the trauma of watching a loved one go through a life threatening illness.

Laura Wylie

Laura's experience as told to Dr Andrew Walden and Melanie Gager, Critical Care Sister/RaCI Lead Nurse - watch the video.


Find more information on a range of illnesses and other health-related issues from seeing and hearing people's real life experiences of intensive care. They can be found on HealthTalk.


Additional Information

You will find further useful information on the General Information page under Useful Leaflets.