When a person is in the ICU, it means they are seriously ill or have recently had surgery. Healthcare providers know that healing is dependent not just on physically healing but also depends on a person's emotional/mental and spiritual state. Family members are worried, fearful and anxious when a loved one is in the ICU. The attitude of family members can have a positive impact on the overall healing process. As such, hospitals often provide support services for family members in how best to support the patient and to help them deal with the possible outcomes of a particular medical problem.
Sometimes, despite the healthcare team's best efforts, there is no good outcome possible. On some occasions, family members will have to deal with end of life issues and may have to exercise their medical power of attorney in dealing with serious healthcare decisions. This is another reason that hospitals provide counselors, chaplains, nurses and others to help families deal with these issues.
If, for some reason, a hospital does not have adequate family care support, then they often have recommendations for such support within the local community.
More Answers from Kevin Soden, MD