If your relative or friend has been admitted as an emergency, it’s natural that you will be worried. They may not have had time to prepare for their stay so this section will explain how you can help and what you should bring in for them.
Please bear in mind that in the early days, visiting may be restricted to close family and friends only and to certain times of the day. To allow staff to devote more time to patient care, it is helpful to have one or two people as main contacts who can be given updates and pass this information to the rest of the family or friends.
We try to be flexible to meet each patient’s needs, so please speak to a nurse about when is best to visit.
When you arrive
Critical Care, the Medical Admissions Unit and the Emergency Department can be busy environments, with lots of activity and noise that can be frightening and distressing for visitors. The doctors and nurses will explain your relative’s condition, plan of treatment and the equipment. If you forget any of the information you have been given please ask, the staff are always happy to give further explanations and information.
What your family member or friend may look like
Patients may have monitoring leads and equipment put on them when they are admitted so that staff can closely watch their heart rhythm, blood pressure and oxygen levels.
The person you care about is likely to look very different to how they would normally look and may have:
- lots of equipment attached to him/her
- a breathing tube in his/her mouth which is attached to a ventilator (a ‘breathing machine’)
- a swollen face and/or limbs
- been sedated and be sleepy or drowsy.
Despite the sedation, many patients respond to reassurance, such as a familiar voice or hand holding. The bedside nurse will make sure that you are able to be with the patient without disturbing any of the monitoring equipment and can also tell you about the equipment and why it is needed.
Help to reduce infection
Critically ill patients have a high risk of getting an infection. To help reduce this risk, please always clean your hands when you enter and leave the unit, by using the spray foam, alcohol gel or washing your hands.
If you are ill, please do not visit.
Some patients are at higher risk of infection than others or have an infection that needs isolating. These isolation rooms are restricted to close family and friends and you’ll be asked to take extra precautions in these rooms, such as wearing a mask, wearing a plastic apron and washing your hands using soap and water.
Find out more about how we work to prevent the spread of infection on our quality and safety standards page.
Support, facilities and accommodation
We know that having a relative or friend admitted in an emergency can be a very stressful experience. It is important to make sure you get enough rest and eat properly so that you do not become unwell yourself.
If you wish to stay nearby overnight, it is sometimes possible to book overnight accommodation at the hospital, which costs £35 per person per night and includes breakfast. For more information please speak to the nurse in charge, who will also be able to provide a list of local B&B’s and hotels.