Where you can be cared for

Treatment planning for seriously ill patients

If you are very ill and your health gets worse, there are a number of things to think about. For example, you might want to consider where you would prefer to be cared for.

Many of our patients would prefer to avoid coming into hospital and instead receive their care where they usually live. Many illnesses can be managed outside of the hospital or by coming to the hospital just for the day. You can access professionals, treatment and equipment where you are, through your GP. If you've planned to have your care at home, you can still come into hospital if you change your mind.

Most patients who come to hospital for their treatment are seen first in the emergency department, or A&E, before moving on to a general ward. Lots of treatments and procedures take place there, so it can feel quite busy.

Critical care, also known as high dependency or sometimes intensive care, is an area which can be very busy and involves very close monitoring. People who are admitted to intensive care may be connected to machines which provide organ support, sometimes known as life support. Some people may be sedated for a period of time during this treatment.

The experience of being in intensive care is highly demanding on the body and the mind. That's why it's really important to consider if this is the right thing to do for the patient.

Hospices provide care for people who have illnesses that won't get better. That includes conditions like dementia, heart and breathing problems and cancer.

Some people assume that hospices only provide care to people who are very close to death, but in fact lots of people choose to visit hospices for a short time to work on a symptom or a problem before going back home again. For example, someone with heart failure might choose to visit the hospice for a short time to work on their breathing problems and then they go back home.

Lots of hospices also offer other services that you can visit just for the day.

Please talk to your healthcare team if you would like more information.

At home

You might be able to have care where you usually live. Many illnesses can be managed outside of the hospital or by coming to the hospital just for the day. You can get access to professionals, treatment and equipment at home through your GP.

If you plan to have your care at home but change your plans later, you can still come into hospital.

In a hospice

Hospices care for people who have illnesses that will not get better. These include conditions like dementia, heart and breathing problems, and cancer.

Some people assume that hospices only care for people who are close to death. However, lots of people visit hospices for a short time to improve a symptom or problem before going back home again. For example, someone with heart failure might visit a hospice for a short time to work on their breathing problems and then go back home.

In hospital

During your stay in hospital, we talk about your condition and options for treatment with you.

Our nurses may measure your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate every few hours, depending on your needs. These are called your vital signs. Monitoring you like this helps our staff decide when and where to get extra medical help if they are concerned about you.

A specially trained team responds if your condition gets worse. This clinical response team gives extra support on the ward. If you need more monitoring or treatment, we might transfer you to the critical care unit.

Critical care if your condition gets worse

In critical care, we provide extra treatments and monitor you closely. Often we give organ support, which is sometimes called life support. This may include drips, tubes and machines to support your breathing or kidneys.

Sometimes, you might need to have sedation. This is when we give you a medicine to make you calm and sleepy until your condition is more stable.

The close monitoring in critical care supports people when they are seriously ill. It also allows us to try to treat the underlying problem.

Most people who need critical care recover and go back to the ward to get better. If someone has been seriously ill, it might take them a long time to recover. There might be long-lasting effects on the body or mind.

Not all people in critical care recover. This might be because they are very sick or have serious health conditions.

As with all treatments in hospital, we try to find the best option for you. It is important that any critical care has a realistic chance of helping you to get better.

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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