“Grief and trauma are rarely discussed by ICU clinicians; we tend to learn about it by osmosis”. - ICU Nurse
Families struggle with the intensity of the ICU. Most will have little or no healthcare knowledge, they will be trying to come to terms with a sudden and life-threatening health emergency of someone they care about, and they may be asked to make decisions they don’t feel prepared to make. This often results in psychological trauma and grief.
These modules help ICU clinicians to better understand and support families in distress, specifically in clinical situations when patients die. While you can’t always prevent a death, you may be able to reduce the impact of psychological trauma. Integrating some of this content into your practice may require you to stretch beyond your comfort level as you learn new ways to interact with and support ICU families experiencing grief and psychological trauma. By using timely and sensitive psychosocial interventions, you’ll help families cope as well as make a long-lasting difference for years after the death.
Module 1, Understanding and responding to families’ grief and trauma, provides (1) information about how families experience and express trauma and grief; (2) assessment strategies for grief and trauma risk; and (3) suggests ways to engage constructively with families within the context of grief and trauma.
Module 2, Strategies for addressing traumatic grief, describes specific interventions that you can use to support families, along with strategies for dealing with problematic and less common issues that may arise.
Module 3, Supporting children visiting the ICU, contains information about how best to support children visiting your ICU.
Module 4, Understanding and responding to vicarious trauma, examines the impact of grief and trauma on ICU staff and offers suggestions for how you and your team can constructively respond to the challenges of your work.
A note about language:
Throughout these modules, “trauma” is used to refer to “psychological trauma.”
“Family” is used to refer to members of the patient’s primary support network, including biological and chosen family and friends.These modules are designed for experienced ICU clinicians as well as students and early-career clinicians. The content is interview- and evidence-informed and was developed and peer-reviewed by national experts in grief, ICU and related fields.
If you wish to access further content on the topics included in these modules and/or references, please CLICK HERE .