Family Presence in the ICU

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In critical care units; like ICU, family presence has become an important element of nursing care that promotes patient recovery process. Nonetheless, family presence in the ICU has not been smoothly adopted; especially by nurses, who feel the presence of family may change the physiologic status of the patients, interfere with patient care and result in amplified nursing errors due to distractions or interruptions. A few changes; however have been implemented to ensure that family presence boosts the delivery of health care. First, policies have been formulated to guide and regulate open or liberalized visitation. Hospital executives have moved to ensure that they have proper rules that promote unrestricted contact between family members and patients while ensuring that their presence does not interfere with the patient care (McLean, Gill & Shields, 2016). Such procedures also protect the safety and privacy of patients and hospital staff.

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Secondly, hospitals have introduced family assessment as a way of gathering valuable information that guide the development of a family-centered care plan. It is important to understand how family members react to the admission of their loved ones in the ICU. This involves determining their feelings concerning the patients condition and care so as to avoid any possible disruption to nursing care of the critically ill. In so doing, any unaddressed concerns may be revealed and effectively addressed and effective incorporation of family presence in the ICU.

Positive attitudes and beliefs of nurses are critical in supporting family presence in the ICU. A lot of efforts have been made to encourage nurses to change their perceptions concerning family presence in critical care; focusing on the associated benefits. Rigid visitation procedures and policies have been smoothly transformed into visitation procedures to give nurses a humble time to adjust to adoption of family-centered care in the ICU (McAlvin & Carew-Lyons, 2014). Nurses have been educated, mentored, have skills built, and given role-playing chances to work happily with supple procedures and heightened family presence and involvement in critical care.

Although much has been done to improve on family-centered care in the ICU, there are few things that should still be pursued. It is important to ensure that senior hospital management offer support and leadership to alter rigid visitation procedures and policies, including any informational materials and signage that convey the policies to families, communities and even patients(Coyne, 2015). Secondly, it is critical to recognize the essential role of family members in the delivery of care. In fact, family member should be designated as partners in care. Their involvement in health care delivery and making of decisions should be articulated. Lastly, terms such as visitation or visitors should be avoided when referring to family members recognized by the patient.

As a registered nurse, I do find family presence in the ICU to be beneficial rather than detrimental to the delivery of health care to the critically Ill. Therefore, I have the responsibility of encouraging and enabling family presence within health care settings. During procedure or treatments, family members need to be informed of the ongoing process, and be allowed to take part in the procedure until it ends. Judging the aptness of family presence at the ICU is a task that fall to me as a nurse. I am expected to continually evaluate the situation and recommend as to whether the presence of family members is suitable or not, based on the evaluations.


Coyne, I. (2015). Families and healthcare professionals' perspectives and expectations of familycentred care: hidden expectations and unclear roles. Health Expectations, 18(5), 796-808.

McLean, J., Gill, F. J., & Shields, L. (2016). Family presence during resuscitation in a paediatric hospital: health professionals confidence and perceptions. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 25, 1045-1052.

McAlvin, S. S., & Carew-Lyons, A. (2014). Family Presence During Resuscitation and Invasive Procedures in Pediatric Critical Care: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Critical Care, 23, 6, 477-485.

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