Critical Care Unit patient diaries

Information for patients and relatives from the Critical Care Unit

Patients who have had a stay in the Critical Care Unit often have little or no memory of their stay. Their memory for this time can be affected by the illness itself or the sedative drugs we give to our patients to keep them comfortable. Patients may also remember nightmares or hallucinations from this time that can be very frightening.

How will a diary help?

Although doctors and nurses explain to patients why they were admitted to the Critical Care Unit, patients often forget what we have told them. Research has suggested that patients can become stressed and anxious when they do not fully understand what has been wrong with them.

To help patients understand more about their illness and critical care stay, the staff write patient diaries. A diary has been shown to reduce stress in patients after they are discharged to the wards and in the months after their stay.

What is included in the diary?

A patient diary has been started for your relative. The nursing staff will make diary entries to explain what has brought the patient to the Critical Care Unit, what is wrong with them, and how they are progressing. Some patients may also have their photograph taken for their diary.

We encourage relatives to write in the diary, to pass on their messages to the patient, or to tell them news from home that they would like to hear.

Where is the diary kept?

Your family’s diary will be kept at the bedside in Critical Care; you just need to ask the nurse looking after your relative if you would like to make a diary entry.

When will the patient get to read their diary?

When our patients are well enough they can read their diary. This is often when they have gone to a general ward. Here they will be seen by the Critical Care Outreach Team and the Follow-up and Rehabilitation Team, who will review the diaries with them at an appropriate time, if needed.

Once patients are well enough they are encouraged to go to the Critical Care Follow-up Rehabilitation Clinic and class, for ongoing physical and psychological support, and reflection of their critical illness.

What if I have any further questions or concerns?

If you have any questions about patient diaries, please ask the nurse looking after your relative, or ask to meet with the critical care follow-up and rehabilitation nurse specialist (see numbers below).

Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital, Margate

William Harvey Hospital, Ashford


Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
Telephone: 01227 783145


Critical Care Follow-Up and Rehabilitation Specialist Nurse
Mobile:07771 378331