Principles of the ICU diary

Writing in the ICU diary is :

  • Contribute to reconstructing the history of your loved one in order to fill in the periods of true unconsciousness or altered consciousness (confusion, amnesia, delirium) in order to give the patient back his or her history: you write down a fragment of his or her life that he or she will not remember in order to allow him or her to reconstruct afterwards;
  • Explicitly show your presence, your commitment, your support;
  • An effective way to limit or even eliminate the risks of psychological after-effects due to the serious illness, amnesia and sometimes uncomfortable and misunderstood care;
  • A way for the patient to understand the ordeals their body has been through and to facilitate the understanding and acceptance of the time needed for recovery;
  • A way to communicate with your loved one in your absence;
  • A way to disseminate information non-sensitive to those around you;
  • A way to express yourself, to communicate your affection, to allow him or her to understand what you too are going through during this stay in intensive care;

The logbook is NOT :

  • A grievance book: Sometimes you will feel the need to express frustrations, complaints or criticisms, but the ICU diary should remain a tool for the patient and his or her recovery. It should be kept in mind with every message you write.
    You can address any complaints you may have directly to the medical and paramedical staff accompanying your loved one or make an appointment with the department managers (head of department, paramedical staff) to discuss them. Each hospital also has a user exchange service that you can contact.
  • A diary: an ICU diary is ideally a document open to all. So everyone can write in it but also read the content. If you wish to share intimate thoughts, private emotions, or comments that may offend other journal editors, please feel free to write them on loose paper and place them in a sealed envelope that you can stick in the notebook, always with the current date, in order to respect the chronology, which will be important for the patient in his quest for memory. The web-application Lifemapp Diary, which is secure and designed for this purpose, makes it possible to create confidentiality circles and to write private messages that can only be viewed by the patient. Feel free to ask the nursing staff about the application.

  • A medical record: In order to respect professional secrecy, entries should not include specific diagnostic details. If the patient felt the need, he or she could ask the hospital director to retrieve his or her hospital report, or even a copy of his or her medical file, and possibly make an appointment with a doctor in the department to obtain all the explanations he or she wants.