An exploration of the support available to children who may wish to visit a critically adult in ITU

Pauline E Vint
Intensive & Critical Care Nursing: the Official Journal of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses 2005, 21 (3): 149-59
There has been growing evidence to suggest that by not actively supporting children who have a critically ill loved one in an Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU), we may be doing them a great disservice. Decreased understanding and feelings of abandonment and helplessness can prevail. The primary purpose of this research was to explore the resources currently available to support a child with a critically ill adult member of their family (or significant other) in ITU, whom they may wish to visit. Available support for nursing staff that enables them to do this has also been explored. A descriptive postal survey was used in 2003 to collect data from 46 adult general and cardiothoracic ITUs nationally. The findings illustrated that there was a lack of written policy and very little written information for adult visitors regarding the needs of children who have a loved one in ITU. There was also a dearth of resources for nursing staff pertaining to children and their needs (when visiting a critically ill adult), including a lack of any formal or informal education on the subject. Clearly, restrictions were still being imposed on children visiting a loved one either by the well parent/carer or by the nursing staff, mainly for reasons unsubstantiated by research.

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