Chapter 3: Problematic and critical issues

Long-term admissions that end in death

 “ With long-term admissions, a deeper, more meaningful attachment may form.  Staff may even hold a debriefing or an impromptu kind of memorial in recognition of the meaning of this person in their lives”. – Palliative care psychologist

A relatively small number of ICU admissions can last for months or even years before death. Bonds between you and a family can become deeper, with a great deal of mutual trust and respect. Often, all parties are more vulnerable when these relationships end.  

There are ways that you can honour both your team and the family so that everyone is better prepared to move forward in their grief, for example:

1. Family may choose to host a small gathering: to thank the team for their dedicated caring. Many families value sharing and hearing stories of the patient’s time on the unit.

2. Your team may wish to pay special homage to the patient: at or after their death, perhaps gathering together and visiting the patient’s room.