This guide contains advice and information about intensive care. It tells you how critical illness may be treated and what recovery may be like. Not every patient will experience all of these things, but they are more likely to if they have been in intensive care for more than a few days. Most of this guide is written for patients but there is a section specifically for relatives and visitors. By reading the guide, relatives will learn what a patient's recovery may involve and it will give them the answers to some of the questions they may have.

Recovery is often a long and slow process. To begin with, patients may not feel up to reading this information, so if you are a relative, please keep hold of this booklet and pass it on when the patient is ready.

One of the scariest things about having a critical illness is not knowing what's going to happen. This section covers many of the questions that patients and relatives often have following a critical illness. It tells you what may happen and where you can find out more information. Each section covers a different stage of the process of treatment and recovery.

This guide has been written by people who have either been treated in an intensive care unit or are close relatives of someone who has. It has also been reviewed by a wide variety of intensive care professionals.

Patient information in other languages

To make this crucial information more widely available, it's been translated into other languages. Like the print-friendly version these are available for free download here in PDF format.

Intensive Care - a guide for patients and relatives

Children's Activity Book

Booklet supplements

To complement our patient information guide, we're producing a series of supplements on issues relevant to recovering intensive care patients.

These supplements are exclusively available online. They're free to download in PDF format for you to print, photocopy and distribute to as needed.

Children's activity book

Visiting the Intensive Care Unit' is an activity book for children who are visiting a relative in an intensive care unit (ICU) that helps introduce children to ICUs, has activities to help them understand what ICUs do and what they might see when they visit one.

NHS hospitals can order free activity books and is also available to download as a PDF document (1.7MB).

Help us improve the guide

If you have any comments about this booklet or if you can translate the text into another language for us, we'd like to hear from you. You can reach us by filling in the 'contact us' form.