Also called critical care or intensive therapy departments, ICUs are sections within a hospital that look after patients whose conditions are life-threatening and need constant, close monitoring and support from equipment and medication to keep normal body functions going. They have higher levels of staffing, specialized monitoring, and treatment equipment only available in these areas and the staff are highly trained in caring for the most severely ill patients. Some hospitals have areas called high dependency units (HDU) and some specialist units have high dependency areas within the ICU. Hospitals may differ in what they call these areas but their roles and expertise are the same.
As the name suggests, the ICU is an intense place for the patient and the family. It is important to understand how best to communicate with both the patient and the medical team in the ICU. Speak in a calm, soothing, clear voice to offer reassurance and support. Determine who the family spokesperson will be for the family.