I believe that the first step is to understand that despite we are human beings we are not always humanized, because humanize is a mode of being, living, interacting, growing us, moving us and traveling to the inside, to experience life in another way. 

All of us want to be older, but we could have best moments, and create highlights for our patients.

What are the family needs?
  • Receiving clear information in terms that they can understand 
  • Having proximity with the patient 
  • Feeling that there is hope 
  • Having time to accompany their loved one
  • Being relieved
  • Perceiving that the patient receives care of high quality 
  • Trusting in the clinical skill of the team of health. 
  • Knowing that the ICU team is concerned by the patient 
  • Reassuring, giving support and protecting their loved one
  • Having some grade of comfort during the process


Specific role of the team when a family comes into the ICU: providing the medical report as soon as possible, accompanying to the family to the unit, explaining how it works, offering availability to ask.

Visitation policies. To define the enlargement of the visits, we should: 

  • Agreeing on a protocol with the institution
  • Knowing the wish of the patient 
  • Agreeing with all the ICU team
  • Defining with the patient, if is possible, what family member is suitable for accompanying
  • Creating a space of privacy and comfort to the family (Chairs, closed doors or place screens if it´s possible) 
  • Defining with the team if the family member is going to collaborate in the care 
  • Nursing participation in the report to the family to know the type of family and what relationship have between them 
  • What patients we are going to expand visits depending on the current diseaset (for example in isolates, infectious diseases, etc)

What can family do during the visit?

  • Participating in the early mobilization 
  • accompanying patient from bed to a chair or sitting 
  • accompanying and assisting in feeding patient 
  • Supporting with elements of sensory stimulation 
  • Performing skin care (for example, place moisturizers in lower limbs) 
  • Participating of the hygiene of the patient (hairstyle brushed teeth, nails cut) 
  • Being educated by nursing before the ICU discharge of the patient 


It´s important explain to the family don´t worry by alarms or drips, make them feel that we need them to tasks that although we can make us, the affection and love of a relative are irreplaceable.What is the contribution of flexibilization visitation policies?

For patients: 
  • Decreases anxiety, confusion and agitation 
  • Reduces cardiovascular complications
  • decreases ICU stay
  • Makes the patient feeling more safe 
  • Increases the satisfaction of the patient 
  • Increases quality and security 


For families:

  • Increases satisfaction 
  • Decreases anxiety 
  • Promotes a best communication 
  • Contributes to a better understanding of the patient 
  • Allows more opportunities for the teaching of the patient / family , and is involves them in the care.


Myths to topple: visits stresses to the patient, interfering in the provision of care, are tyring for the patient and the family and contribute to infections.

Visits for 
children: If children are adequately prepared, they should be allowed as visitors to the ICU, because they present a positive behavior and less emotional changes in relation to children who do not visit their loved one.

Ana María Bejarano

Nursing ICU Head.
Director of Critical Nursing of SATI at Sanatorio La Entrerriana
Argentinean Society of Intensive Care Medicine