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Keywords:

  • children;
  • hospital visiting;
  • visiting policies and practice;
  • critical care nursing;
  • family centred care;
  • Piaget;
  • child development;
  • nursing care

The needs of children visiting on adult intensive care units: a review of the literature and recommendations for practice

Aim. The purpose of this paper is to review the current literature and research available and to identify specific, nursing interventions to meet the needs of child visiting within the ICU setting.

Background. According to recent surveys children are still restricted from visiting their critically ill family and friends on many adult intensive care units (ICUs) within the United Kingdom (UK). Imposing restrictive visiting policies does not respect the rights of patients and their families to be together and to support each other during a period of stress and crisis.

Method. The motivation to undertake the study was derived from a critical incident involving a small boy who was not allowed to visit his critically ill mother. She subsequently died. Reflection on the available literature identified the value and role of intuition in expert clinical judgement, but the need to support this with evidence based knowledge.

Conclusion. The implications for practice are discussed and recommendations for further research are made.