Accompanying a patient in intensive care

Beyond the care, your presence and support will be a precious and irreplaceable help for your loved one.

What can you do for the patient?

One of the first simple things you can do for your hospitalized loved one is tobring a few personal items:

If he is conscious, don’t hesitate to bring him something to occupy himself with in a restful way: even great intellectuals often have trouble concentrating on their books while being resuscitated! Simple reading, music, and even entertaining movies and TV shows can help them get away from it all.

Whatever his state of consciousness, it is always useful to bring him :

-Her favorite perfume,

-Personal toiletries (shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, razor, hairbrush…),

-To keep your skin moisturized (cream, massage oil),

-But also possibly a blanket or a stole (washable!) that he or she likes

This allows the teams to personalize the care, to favour a singular management even if the patient is in coma, and it also allows your loved one to regain some familiarity as soon as they regain consciousness. This will be very valuable to him.

What to tell him?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say at the bedside of a loved one who is in a coma or who can’t respond to you because of artificial respiration. You can give them news about their friends, family, events related to their interests.

You can also share memories of vacations, common experiences, good times spent with him or her, or share plans for after resuscitation.

Talk to him

Of everything and nothing, as if he
was discussing with you. Do not hesitate to tell him your daily life, anecdotes without importance: all that can help him to find again foot in the reality or to escape from reanimation is good to take!

Read him something

A book, a poem, a
magazine, messages from its
loved ones… Even if his condition does not allow him to integrate the details of your readings, a known voice is always useful in difficult moments.

Play it from
the music

If you are a musician, you can play yourself of course, but more simply, you can bring him something to listen to music: small radio, headphones, …

Your sensitivity as a relative will be of great help It is also very important not to focus on this: the patient is immersed all day in the unpleasant world of resuscitation, your greatest asset will be to help him escape by thought in conversations or daydreams that you will know how to personalize according to his interests and wishes!


Even if your loved one is conscious, communication may still be difficult, especially if he or she is intubated because he or she will not be able to speak. In this case, if his condition allows it, he will be able to write or spell a word by pointing to letters or numbers or words that you have written beforehand. Don’t hesitate to ask closed questions (where the answer is yes or no) to allow them to answer simply.

You can also personalize the walls of the room, with the agreement of the nursing staff: bringing pictures and drawings can maintain a link with the outside world and provide some support.

Keeping a journal ( see the dedicated section ) can be a great help to your loved one if he or she goes through a period of coma, sedation or confusion.

Participate in care

You can help the caregivers provide simple care to your loved one, such as a foot or hand massage, styling their hair, perfuming them, or even helping to shampoo them depending on their condition. Unfortunately, this is not always possible for security reasons, you will always have to ask the authorization of the care team.

You may also be asked to leave your loved one’s room if painful care is to be provided, to protect yourself from the distress that this may cause.

The patient’s reactions

The stay in the intensive care unit is a strange time for the patient, especially if he or she goes through one or more phases of coma or confusion. He or she may have hallucinations, or imagine things: it is not uncommon for patients to have delusions that are the consequence of the disease or of the treatments put in place. This will disappear as his condition improves, but he may have strange memories of it: don’t hesitate to discuss this with him.

Allowing him to verbalize hallucinations or anxieties by reassuring him can allow him to regain some calm during his stay and Talking about it after discharge can also reassure the patient that what is called “resuscitation delirium” is a sometimes unpleasant but completely normal event!