Wellington Intensive Care Unit

Te Rui Atawhai



Intensive Care patient diaries are books that are given to the families of our longer stay patients for them to complete their own journal documenting their loved one's time in ICU.

This practice originated in Sweden where it was recognised that patients who recover from critical illness often have little or no memories of their time in ICU. This 'memory gap' may contribute to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in ICU survivors, particularly where patients have been sedated for long periods of time and have 'lost' several weeks or months.
By providing them with a written record kept by friends and members of their family that includes photos and stories, patients can piece together the time they had otherwise lost.

Family members may also find it useful to read what others have written and this may help keep them up-to-date with their loved one's condition.

Photographs showing the patient with their family & friends around them may also help to reassure them that they were not alone during this very difficult time.
Wellington ICU Patient Diary
We first introduced patient diaries to our unit in August 2009 with over 120 books given out over the next 2 years. Participation is voluntary & only after family or patient consent has been obtained; this includes the taking of any photographs.
The bounds books are provided free to families and are kept by the patient's bedside. We have a digital camera that can be used to take and print photos for inclusion.

The diaries are considered to be the property of the patient and are given to them on discharge from ICU. If the patient (or family) do not wish to keep the diary, it will be stored in ICU and can be claimed at any time up to one year after discharge.

I found the diary great and still refer back to it. With serious illness, it was a turning point in my life and great to have written memories of it as I remember very little of the early stages in ICU.
Family member
The whole whanau wrote in it and read it. I found it very useful and it was great to read later.
ICU Patient
It was great to read afterwards about who had visited. Any comments about what I said or did helped me piece together some of the time I lost.
ICU Patient
We found it very useful. She has shown everyone & doesn't remember any time in ICU. She keeps the diary & photos in a box and shows anyone willing to look at them.
Family member
It is very good for her to look back at how she was. It made much more sense of what was going on.
Family member
Having these diaries are a fantastic idea & we would encourage all patients' families to keep one.
Family member
We found the diary very useful. it helped family and friends understand what happened day by day.
Family Member
It took him about three months to be able to read the diary. This was very emotional for him, as he had no recollection of most of the time in ICU. He asked many questions and the diary was a great back up as to the time frame and medical procedures...
Family member
The nurses wrote in it, it was great to have their input........we would read their comments to find out what went on while we were out.”
Family Member
ICU Patient Diaries
This project has been led by Michelle Adams who follow up all diaries with a questionnaire regarding their usefulness. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with some recent feedback presented above.

If you would like more information regarding the use of patient diaries or are an ICU professional considering introducing them into your unit, please contact Michelle Adams (ACNM, Wellington ICU)

This page was last updated on Tuesday, 28 August 2018 10:09:29