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Information for Parents

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The Children’s Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first and only Children’s Intensive Care Unit in Wales, and cares for children from birth to 16 years of age.  During your child’s stay they will be under the care of a Specialist Consultant experienced in Children's Intensive Care.

Each day you will be able to speak to the team of doctors caring for your child.  There is a doctor on duty 24 hours a day.  Your child will be cared for by a qualified children’s nurse experienced in intensive care on each shift.  There are two main shifts – day and night duty.

  • There are two doctors ward rounds each day at 8.30 am and 4.30 pm. 
  • Nursing handover takes place at 7.30 am and 7.30 pm. 

All members of the PICU team will support you and keep you informed of your child’s condition and ongoing care.  You will see lots of visiting teams such as Physiotherapists and staff in other uniforms that will help to provide care for your child. If you are unsure of who anyone is, please ask a member of the nursing team.

Your child will be nursed in one of the 8 bed areas on the PICU.  They will have many wires and tubes attached to them.  The wires provide important information about your child to the medical and nursing staff caring for them, and the tubes allow staff to give your child the medicine they need to keep them asleep and pain free and help them get better.

The PICU environment can be very stressful and you may feel you are surrounded by machines, bright lights and unfamiliar sounds.  For these reasons, you may feel unable to cope or help your child.

Caring for your child

There are many ways for you to continue to carry out your role as a parent to your child and we will encourage and support you to do so when you feel ready. Take a look at our useful Guide for Parents for further advice on how to cope yourself, and information about how to help siblings.

The amount of care you feel able to carry out and will depend on you. Many parents wish to help wash their child or change their nappy, while others are happy to watch until some of the tubes and wires have been removed.

Your child will be minimally clothed whilst on PICU so that the nurse can closely observe them. You may wish to bring in socks for your baby or particular items your child finds of comfort at home.

Your child will probably be able to hear you even if they are being kept asleep with medicine.  They may therefore gain much comfort from the sound of your voice or the touch of your hand.  You may like to bring in a favourite toy or blanket, read to them or play their favourite music.  Remember you know your child best.

If you are breastfeeding your baby you may wish to express your milk, and equipment is available for you to do this.  The nurse will provide you with the information you need.  Your milk may then be given to your baby by one of the special tubes.

Looking after Yourself

Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways you can help your child.  This is an extremely stressful time for you, and it is important that you remain both physically and emotionally strong for your child.

There are waiting rooms near the PICU for you to use during your stay which have a television.  There are a number of places to eat within the hospital, and staff will let you know how to find them.  There are also a number of shops within the Concourse. 

  • Remember to eat and drink – you may not feel hungry but you need energy, so eat little and often.
  • Take regular breaks away from the unit – it may seem difficult to leave your child for short periods, but this time will help you recharge.  The nurse caring for your child will stay with them and contact you if necessary.
  • Try to get enough rest and sleep.  Parent accommodation is available for you within the hospital, so please ask if you wish to stay and the nurse caring for your child will try to arrange this for you.
  • Use the support that is available to you, such as family and friends. During such times, people often appreciate being told what they can do to help.

Help and Support for You

There are many people within the hospital to help and support you. Staff on PICU can provide you with the relevant information should you require any of their support.

  • Parent support nurse - the nurse caring for your child can give you the information you need or contact them on your behalf
  • The Hospital Chaplain is always available if you would like someone to talk to.  You do not need to be religious or go to church to do so.
  • The hospital chapel is situated on the 5th floor of B Block, UHW and is a peaceful place for you to take a break or have some quiet time.  It is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.  We can also arrange for your child to be christened or blessed if this is something you would like to do.  Please ask us at any time so we can arrange for the religious leader of your choice to come to the unit.
  • Hospital social worker
  • Language interpretation service
  • There are a number of Welsh speaking members of staff within the PICU team should this be your first language. Look for the logo on staff uniforms.
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