Our intensive care teams

If you are a patient or visitor in an intensive care unit (ICU) at either Fiona Stanley Hospital or Rockingham General Hospital (external site), it is likely you will be involved with the following healthcare professionals.

Aboriginal Health Liaison Officers

Aboriginal Health Liaison Officers provide culturally appropriate support to Aboriginal patients and their family during their ICU journey.

The AHLO:

  • supports the patient emotionally and practically to improve their hospital experience
  • assists the patient to communicate their needs and wishes
  • assists patients who live outside the metropolitan area by liaising with family or community and where appropriate, assist the patient’s nominated next-of-kin to travel and stay in Perth to support the patient
  • improves the level of engagement between Aboriginal patients and the ICU team by advocating for the patient regarding cultural issues such as family connections.
Dietitian

A dietitian works out a patient’s nutritional needs and how the patient will be fed. Sometimes patients are fed through a nasogastric tube (a tube that goes up the patient's nose and down into theirr stomach) or through a drip straight into a vein.

Doctors

Each day the ICU’s team of doctors, led by a consultant, check on every patient to make decisions about their treatment and care. Our consultants are supported by a team of registrars, many of whom are studying to specialise in this area.

The doctors generally examine the patient, listen to their lungs with a stethoscope and look at any wounds. Sometimes patients may remember being examined by their doctors or hearing them discussing treatment options.

Specialists such as surgical or orthopaedic doctors may also visit ICU patients. Often these are the doctors who saw the patient before they were admitted to the ICU and who will care for the patient once they return to a general ward.

Nurses

One nurse usually looks after one, or at most, two ICU patients. The nurse provides most of the care needed and, in the early stages, spends most of their time at the patient’s bedside. They also work with other professionals, such as doctors or physiotherapists, to make sure ICU patients receive the correct treatment and care.

Our nurses will ask you questions about your loved one so we can get to know them as a person while they are with us.

Tasks regularly undertaken by ICU nurses include:

  • taking regular blood tests
  • changing treatments depending on test results
  • giving medications and fluids as prescribed by the doctors
  • recording blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels
  • clearing fluid and mucus from the patient’s chest using a suction tube
  • turning the patient in their bed every few hours to prevent pressure sores on the skin
  • clean the patient’s teeth and moistening their mouth with a wet sponge
  • washing the patient in bed
  • changing the patient’s sheets
  • changing the patient’s surgical stockings (used to help circulation during periods of inactivity)
  • putting drops in the patient’s eyes to make blinking easier.

Assessment Liaison Escalation Response Team (ALERT) nurses (Fiona Stanley Hospital only)

Fiona Stanley Hospital ALERT nurses are available to check on ICU patients once transferred to a general ward and answer questions they or their family may have. You can phone this service on 6152 7654 and 6152 9461 twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Pastoral care team

Pastoral care services are an important part of spiritual and holistic health care.

Our chaplains offer a compassionate, professional and spiritual ministry to patients, family members and friends. They offer ICU patients and families:

  • support though presence
  • time to listen
  • conversations about emotional and spiritual concerns
  • an assessment of their spiritual/religious needs
  • opportunities for reflection and prayer
  • individual or chapel sacramental ministry
  • rituals to mark significant life moments.

Our pastoral care services acknowledge patients and families come from many different cultures and may have varied or no beliefs. If an ICU patient or family member has specific cultural, spiritual or religious needs, our pastoral care service can contact an appropriate person of their faith group to assist.

Pharmacists

Our pharmacists ensure patients receive appropriate medicines in the correct doses and that side effects are minimised. They may ask you for information about the medications that your loved one usually takes. The pharmacist also answers questions staff may have relating to medications.

Physiotherapists

Many ICU patients see a physiotherapist during their stay. The physiotherapist may:

  • perform physiotherapy on the patient’s chest to try and keep their lungs clear
  • exercise the patient’s arms and legs while they are sleeping to keep the muscles working and stop their joints becoming stiff
  • give exercises to patients who had been connected to a ventilator (a machine that helps patients to breathe) to strengthen their lungs and breathing muscles and reduce the risk of lung infection.
  • work with patients on strengthening exercises to get them out of bed and moving about.
Social workers

Many ICU admissions are unplanned and families are often find themselves feeling overwhelmed.

The ICU social worker provides emotional and practical support to the patient and their family during their ICU journey. They assist the family to:

  • manage any immediate needs, concerns or issues
  • set up longer term plans for the ongoing management of the patient’s affairs during their ICU admission.

This can include assistance with financial, accommodation or legal issues, as well as ongoing emotional support during family meetings.

You can request support from the social worker through the bedside nurse or the ward clerk.

Speech pathologists

Speech pathologist assess and manage treatments for patients with swallowing or communication difficulties. These difficulties may result from:

  • the condition that resulted in the patient needing intensive care, for example if the patient has had a stroke
  • the patient being intubated, where a flexible plastic tube is inserted down their throat to open the airway, remove blockages or help the patient breathe
  • the patient having a tracheostomy, where a tube is inserted into the patient’s windpipe via a hole in their throat, typically to connect the patient to a ventilator.

As the patient gets better, the speech pathologist may add a speaking valve to the tracheostomy so the patient can use their voice, or set up other communication aids.

Speech pathologists also assess if a patient can swallow well enough to start drinking and eating normally. If a patient is unable to swallow safely, a feeding tube may be required to provide nutritional support.


Return to ICU information for family and friends

Button reads ICU family journey

Contact our ICUs

Contact the ICU at Fiona Stanley Hospital or Rockingham General Hospital.