Patients who have had a stay in ICU often have little or no memory of their ICU stay. Their memory for this time can be affected by the illness itself or the sedative drugs we give to our patients to keep them comfortable. Patients may also remember nightmares or hallucinations from this time that can be very frightening.

Although doctors and nurses explain to patients why they were admitted to ICU, patients often forget what we have told them. Research has suggested that patients can become stressed and anxious when they do not fully understand what has been wrong with them. To help patients understand more about their illness and ICU stay the staff have introduced patient diaries. A diary has been shown to reduce stress in patients after they are discharged to the wards and in the months after their stay.

A patient diary can be commenced for your relative. The nursing staff will make diary entries to explain what has brought the patient to ICU, what is wrong with them and how they are progressing. Some patients may also have had their photograph taken for their diary.

We would encourage you to write in the diary, to pass on your messages to the patient or to tell them news from home that they would like to hear. When writing in the diary please avoid using any language that could cause offence, for example swear words, to the patient or others who may read the diary afterwards.

Your family member’s diary will be kept at the bedside in ICU and HDU; you just need to ask the nurse looking after your relative if you would like to make a diary entry.

When our patients are well enough and have gone to a general ward, we follow them up and go through the diaries with them. Once patients are well enough to look after their diary they are allowed to keep them if they wish, and are encouraged to bring them back to the Intensive Care Clinic

Please remember that the diary is hospital property until handed over to the patient after signing a consent form.

Diaries must not be taken away from the bedside by family members.

If you have any questions about patient diaries, please do not hesitate to ask the nurse looking after your relative.  

Here are some examples of typical diary entries.

Here is a copy of our diary that you will use to record all entries.

Here is a website that explains more about patient diaries.