The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at The Alfred is a specially staffed and equipped unit that provides care for patients with life threatening or potentially life threatening conditions.
What we do
We have one of Australia's leading Intensive Care Units, admitting more than 3,000 patients a year. The Alfred ICU provides a number of statewide services.
The ICU is run and staffed by specialist doctors and nurses who have undergone extensive training in intensive care.
Other members of the team include:
- occupational therapists
- speech therapists
- social workers
Who we care for
We care for and treat patients who are suffering from a serious illness or injury that could lead to severe complications if medical treatment is not received quickly.
What to expect
Find out more about what to expect when in ICU and after discharge from ICU.
For more information, visit the ICU website.
Commonly asked questions
The ICU allows visitors at any time of the day or night, providing the patient’s privacy during procedures and medical examinations is maintained.
Too many visitors at one time can be very tiring for patients. We ask that visitors be limited to immediate family or special friends.
We may have to limit the number of people at the bedside to one or two - this is due to lack of space and to minimise any disturbance to other patients.
Please respect the privacy and confidentiality of other patients in the unit.
If you are visiting at the time of ward rounds, you may be asked to leave when the round arrives to see your loved one. This will depend on the doctor and what is happening with your relative.
You will be asked to leave when the patient needs to be examined. You will also be asked to leave when nurses handover to one another as we need to do this without any disturbances so as to make sure we concentrate and don’t miss any information as we hand over from one shift to the next.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for not being by the bedside 24 hours a day. You need to give yourself a break and this will also give the patient time to rest. The patient will be very well cared for and the staff will contact you straight away if they need to or if there is any change in their condition.
You may need to consider whether a child should visit their parent or a close relative in an ICU. You should check with staff before bringing children to the unit and talk to the child about it.
If the child decides they want to go into the ICU, prepare them for what they might see, including the machines, what they do and how the patient might look. We would also advise you to bring in something to occupy them during the visit.
For more information about how to talk to your child, look at the ICU Patient Handbook.
It is important for each family to nominate one person as the contact person, who will then be able to inform family and friends of the patient’s condition. All other family members and friends can contact the nominated spokesperson for updates on the patient’s condition. This allows us to focus on caring for your loved one, and ensures that your family get given the information that they need.
The nurse looking after your loved one will be able to give you information on your loved one’s progress. Medical staff will endeavour to meet with you frequently – if you wish to meet with medical staff, please let your loved one’s nurse know.
It is helpful for you to bring in your loved one's personal toiletries such as toothbrush and toothpaste, hair brush or comb, shaving accessories or any favourite soaps, body wash and deodorant.
Feel free to bring in family photos which we can display or favourite music (CDs) which we can play.
If patient is awake and interested, we have televisions available.
There are many reasons why a critically ill patient doesn't speak. The breathing tube (endotracheal tube or tracheostomy tube) can make speaking impossible or very difficult. Often the patient receives medicine (sedation) to reduce anxiety and pain-killers, which may make them sleepy. Sometimes, your loved one’s illness may also make it difficult for them to talk or to stay awake.
Keep exchanges simple. You can help by not asking questions that require long answers and talking to your loved one in a soothing calm tone.
Infection control in intensive care is extremely important because patients are very ill and therefore can pick up infections easily.
It is essential that all visitors follow our hygiene rules. The nursing staff can advise what you need to do.
When you walk into the ICU you will find a bottle of hand rub next to the door. This is alcohol-based and will evaporate. Please use this each time you come into the ICU and when you leave. This will help us cut down on infection.
Other ways to control infection:
- Do not handle any equipment in the cubicle
- Do not sit on patients’ beds
- Do not bring flowers or plants into the unit
- Do not bring any food or drink into the bedside area
- If your loved one is being nursed in isolation, the staff will instruct you on what you must do
What to bring
For an overnight (or longer) stay
- Dressing gown and slippers, or comfortable day clothes and shoes
- Personal hygiene items, such as shampoo, shaving cream, shaver, toothpaste and deodorant
- Something to do, like a book, a magazine or an iPad/tablet with headphones
Don’t bring (for an overnight or longer stay)
- Your handbag, wallet, purse or large amounts of cash
- Valuables, such as jewellery or watches