Supporting patients and relatives in ICU and beyond

Critical care may save our lives, but we need support and rehabilitation to give those lives back to us.

Patients and relatives

For patients and relatives, the experience of critical illness is a traumatic experience which people who have not experienced it cannot understand. Recovery doesn't end when we leave the ICU or even the hospital. It's only just beginning. To get back to a normal life we need support, rehabilitation and patience because it will take time, often a year or longer, to overcome the physical, emotional and cognitive consequences of critical illess. However, you're not alone.

For many people involvement with intensive care is a daunting experience. For some it's part of the care plan after major surgery but for many others it's a sudden and unexpected event.

You find yourself in an alien environment unlike any you've known before where patients are connected to all kinds of machines and drips, where you might not be able to tell day from night and where there's constant noise and activity.

The people that work in the ICU do an amazing job, but even when patients are on the road to recovery they still have a long way to go before they're fully better. Depending on how ill the patient has been, recovery can take a year or more.

Knowing what might lie ahead and also that you're not alone in what you're going through can be a great help for both patients and relatives.

Where we can help


This section includes our acclaimed patient and relative information sheet is available online and to download in numerous languages, along with topic inforimation sheets, patient experiences and more.


Recovering from critical illness is hard. Doing it alone is even harder. Support groups can help, and if there isn't one near you, you'll find support and understanding in our online community.


Good research needs good patient and public involvement. We can use our expetience of critical illness to help researchers produce better research that matters to patients, and make the most of our experiences.