Visiting Patients in ICU

Information about visiting patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), meeting with doctors, what to expect by the bedside, and how we can support you, is below.

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Visiting Hours

Our ICU has an open visiting policy meaning we are open to visitors 24 hours a day. However we ask you not to visit during nursing handover in the morning and evening between 7-8 am and 7-8 pm as the unit is very busy.


Our Approach

The ICU team know that you want to be with your loved one as much as possible. We will try and give you as much time together as we can whilst also looking after their medical and nursing needs.

Before entering ICU, please ask at reception or use the intercom phone to check you can come in. This applies whether the ICU doors are open or closed.

Due to limited space and the need to respond to emergencies, we ask that there are usually only two people at the bedside at any one time. During medical procedures or when attending to personal hygiene, there may be times that you are unable to visit, or that we ask you to step out. The ICU staff will try to get you back in again as soon as possible.

Visiting can be tiring for patients who are very unwell or are recovering from serious illness. It can also be emotionally exhausting for family, whānau and visitors. If you need some time away from ICU or your loved one needs to rest, please know that you can contact us around the clock. If there is any change in their condition we will also let you know as soon as possible.


Children & Parents


Children are welcome to visit but must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. Some children may find the ICU frightening. We ask parents or whānau to decide what is best for them. The ICU doctors are happy to meet with children before they visit to go through what to expect. This, from our colleagues in Auckland, may be helpful.

Parents of children who have been admitted to ICU are welcome to stay and remain with their child at all times.

Waiting & Facilities

There is a small waiting room immediately outside the ICU with a larger open area next door. Both are open around the clock, with hot drink facilities. The hospital has several cafés on-site with many places to eat in the surrounding suburb of Newtown. There is a hospital shop in the Main Atrium and a large supermarket within 5 minutes walk.

If you live locally, we encourage you to return home overnight rather than sleep in the waiting room. If you are not from Wellington, our Social Work team may be able to assist with accommodation. Parents of children in ICU may be eligible to stay in RMHC. Please ask for support if you think we can help.


At The Bedspace

When you arrive, things can sometimes be overwhelming. It is OK to let your loved one know that you are there by talking to them & holding their hand. If you are worried about the machines or that you may cause them harm by touching them, please ask the ICU nurse for guidance. Please don't touch or move any of the equipment.

Some items you may like to bring include:

  • Photos of your loved one, their family, whānau or friends
  • Any personal items that may be taonga (such as pounamu)
  • Toiletries

Please do not bring flowers. They require water which is a risk around electrical equipment. They may also carry infection.

You may be offered a free Patient Diary to fill in by the bedside. More information about them can be found here.


Most of the equipment in the ICU has an alarm setting which can cause noises and flashing lights. These safety features notify the staff of any changes. We rely on these alarms and will respond as necessary. They may be loud and frightening for you. Most alarms are harmless so please do not be worried.

If the staff are concerned, they will let you know and may sometimes call for help from others. In the rare event that you are asked to step away because of an emergency, please do so as soon as possible so the doctors and nurses can assist.


Meeting the doctors


When someone is admitted to ICU, we know how important it is that their loved ones are kept up-to-date. Our ICU doctors are available 24/7 and will arrange to meet with you as soon as possible. The first few hours or days can be difficult, as things can change quite quickly. We will explain the medical plan and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes it is helpful to write them down and bring them to the meeting. If you would like to begin any meeting with a karakia, please let the doctor leading the meeting know.

If someone is very sick, it may not be possible to meet with you immediately after they arrive in ICU. Our priority is always to stabilise them before you can visit or we can meet with you. We will try to keep you updated during this difficult time.

If your loved one remains very unwell then we will arrange to meet regularly to discuss how things are progressing. These meetings can happen at an arranged time that is convenient for both you and the medical staff. There are quiet rooms away from the bedside where these meetings can occur. We are able to arrange virtual meetings (using Zoom), telephone translation services, or for a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter.




We ask that family or whānau nominate someone to act as a spokesperson. This person provides us with a single point of contact, who can also pass important information on to others. This can be anyone you choose. If your loved one had previously nominated an enduring power of attorney for health to make health decisions for them should they not be able to, it is usually that person.

Please let us know if you have family members overseas. If it would be helpful, we are able to contact them directly to provide information or answer questions if they are unable to attend. Similarly we can provide supporting documentation to help with flights or passports. Please ask the nursing or medical staff for help.

Whānau Care

The hospital Whānau Care Service provides cultural and practical support for Māori patients and whānau during a hospital admission. Their expertise also helps non-Māori ICU staff in providing culturally safe care. If you or your whānau would like their support, please ask the bedside ICU nurse. Whānau Care can also be contacted directly or visited in the Cultural Care Centre on Level 2 of the hospital.

Photos & social media

Please do not take photos, make videos or record anything inside the ICU unless you have permission to do so. Every patient has a right to privacy in our care. Our staff also have a right to privacy at work. They must be able to care for your loved one without being photographed or recorded.

Think before you upload anything. Do not post photos or information about your friend or loved one’s condition on social media unless they are happy for it to be seen by many people, including the media.

Frequently Asked Questions

The ICU can sometimes be a busy or intimidating place. We know that family, whānau or visitors often have things that they are scared or worried about. To help, we have made a webpage where we provide some answers to common questions.

Any Questions?

Contact Us

We hope this website answers any questions you may have. If you are unsure about anything or just want to talk to us, please get in touch any time. Information on the ways you can do this can be found at the link below.

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Level 3
Wellington Regional Hospital
Riddiford Street
Newtown, Wellington
New Zealand

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