Physiotherapists work with ICU nurses and doctors to support patients when they are at their sickest, then help them to increase their strength as they recover.They are essential in helping patients to improve lung function, whether on life support or breathing by themselves. Once able, they will work with patients on exercises to rebuild lost muscle mass. This may range from sitting on the bedside through to walking around the ICU with assistance.
Pharmacists have a number of safety roles in ICU. They check that medicines the patient may take at home are continued, that doses of drugs in ICU are adjusted for any kidney or liver problems, and that any potential interactions between the many medicines ICU patients may receive are avoided. They also ensure that drugs are available in the ICU when required, and are always available to provide advice on doses or alternative medications.
Dieticians have an essential role in ensuring that critically ill patients are receiving the correct quantity and type of nutrition. This is especially important if patients require feeding through a tube or a drip. They work with the ICU doctors to make sure key nutrients are given in the right amounts and adjusted as patients' conditions change.
When able to eat, they ensure people receive the right diet for their medical condition.
Speech & Language Therapists have expertise in a number of areas to help ICU patients. They assess patients after a stroke or other brain injury to determine if they are able to swallow safely. They can help patients with speech problems, particularly after being on a breathing machine. To assess this, they are able to pass a small flexible camera through the nose to look at a patient's larynx. They also have expertise in helping awake patients on life support communicate with the ICU staff.
They are a member of the tracheostomy review (TRAMS) team who will continue to see patients on the ward after they leave the ICU.
Whānau Care provide cultural and practical support for Māori patients and whānau when they are in Wellington Regional Hospital. They assist by providing whakawhānaungatanga, manaaki and manaakitanga. They provide practical help and information. They will also help bridge gaps between patients, whānau and the clinical teams.
More information about their services can be found here.
We recognise that time spent in ICU can be stressful, confusing, and emotionally challenging. Sometimes it’s good to have someone independent to talk to who is able to listen.
Our Psychology team can offer support to patients and whānau to help manage the distress associated with an ICU stay. We can also offer evidence-based therapies and strategies to support recovery and address the anxiety, low mood, confusion, and communication challenges that sometimes accompany critical illness. We provide a compassionate and non-judgemental approach, giving you space to help clarify your own values and strengths, at a time when both hope and acceptance are important.
If you would like a confidential talk or advice to help manage during this time, please ask your nurse to make contact with Amie, our ICU Psychologist. This support is available to both patients and whānau.
Our social work team provide emotional and practical support to patients and families during a very difficult and stressful time. They assess the patient and family's emotional and psychological well-being, provide advice and support, and help them cope with the stress and uncertainty of critical illness. They also help families navigate the healthcare system and can provide information about financial and legal issues.