In the intensive care unit people are constantly looked after and monitored by a highly specialised team, which includes consultants, physiotherapists, dieticians and nurses, each of them with specialist knowledge and skills. Specially trained nurses provide round-the-clock care and monitoring, and there is a high ratio of nurses to patients – each person in ICU is usually assigned his or her own ‘named’ nurse.
ICU nurses play a vital role in the patient’s care, including the following:
- Taking regular blood tests
- Changing the patient’s treatment in line with test results
- Giving the patient the drugs and fluids that the doctors have prescribed
- Recording the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels
- Clearing fluid and mucus from the patient’s chest using a suction tube
- Turning the patient in his or her bed every few hours to prevent sores on the skin
- Cleaning the patient’s teeth and moistening the mouth with a wet sponge
- Washing the patient in bed
- Changing the sheets
- Changing a patient’s surgical stockings, which help circulation when he or she is inactive (lying still) for a long time
- Putting drops in the patient’s eyes to make it easier to blink
Here people talk about the nursing care they received in ICU.
Most people spoke highly of all the staff in ICU and the care that they received, particularly from their named nurses, even if they couldn’t always remember their names. For many the care was ‘excellent’ and the nurses were kind, encouraging, professional and calm. Several people discussed memorable experiences they’d had while in intensive care, such as celebrating birthdays, and one man recalled how the nurses arranged for him to leave ICU briefly and see his dogs, in the hope that this would help him recover.