Chapter 4: Strategies for follow-up

When families come back to the unit

“When you leave the ICU, it does feel as if you can never call them again. I would have appreciated a follow-up of some kind, maybe having the team say, ‘It’s our practice to give you a call in a month or so after the death in case you want to come back and ask questions or talk’…”. – Family member

Families occasionally find their way back to the ICU. Coming back to the place where the death occurred can be part of their healing process. It takes great courage to return to places associated with profound trauma and grief. When this occurs, do your best to make them feel welcome.

A heavy workload may limit your time with families. This can be difficult for both parties. Remember that even a quick hello followed by an apology that you need to attend to your patients can go a long way with families.

Conversation Prompts

“It is good to see you. Many people find it very difficult to return to the ICU. Please accept our condolences again. We have been wondering how you have been doing”.

“I’m sorry I can’t stay and talk, I would really like that. Unfortunately, I have patients that need to be seen. Please accept my condolences”.