The care team in the Critical Care Department is made up of a number of different professionals who will work together to provide care. You'll most likely speak with the doctors and nurses who are providing care to your loved one, however, other professionals such as a social worker or chaplain are also available to you. You can read more about the specific roles in Critical Care below.
Every patient admitted to the ICU has an intensive care specialist who supervises and is responsible for their medical care. The supervising physician, and the other physicians on the team, make scheduled rounds to visit each patient at least twice a day.
Residents are medical doctors who are training to be specialists. There is a resident physician in the ICU 24 hours-per-day, 7 days-per-week to address urgent issues. They are supported by an on-call staff physician.
Critical Care Nurses
Critical Care Nurses are highly skilled Registered Nurses with specialized training and the knowledge to care for and respond to the complex needs of your family member. The nurse assesses the condition of your family member 24 hours-per-day, 7 days-per-week. They work together with the rest of the health-care team to create and implement each patient's care plan as well as provide feedback that helps other team members adjust the goals for each patient. The nurses will work closely with you and your family member to coordinate the plan of care. Please speak with your family member’s nurse if you have any concerns, questions or would like an update.
The Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a Registered Nurse with additional educational and experience who works collaboratively with the rest of the ICU team. The NP can assess and diagnose the patient, order treatments, medications, lab tests and X-rays, as well as perform specific procedures. The NP will also help to coordinate care while in the ICU, assist with transitions from the ICU to other units in the hospital, or assist with discharge from the hospital. Patients and families are encouraged to speak with the NP if they have any questions about their care.
Respiratory Therapists (RT)
Most patients in ICU require some support for their breathing. Respiratory therapists (also called RTs) are highly skilled health care professionals. They care for patients by evaluating their breathing as well as treating and maintaining heart and lung function. RTs will set-up and maintain your family member's airway and ventilator and will work with the ICU team regarding respiratory care needs.
The role of the social worker in the ICU is to support you and act as a liaison and advocate for your family. A social worker will meet with you sometime in the first few days of your family member being admitted to the ICU. They will provide crisis and grief counseling, as well as help you with your practical needs such as helping you find a place to stay and help to get you comfortable with the ICU. They can also help in clarifying Power of Attorney or Substitute Decision Maker issues. Social workers coordinate family meetings with the care team to support ongoing communication.
The role of the Dietitian on the ICU team is to ensure your family member is getting the nutrition they require. Proper nutrition in the ICU has shown to improve health-care outcomes for patients. The Dietitian will ask for your help when they are planning for the nutrition needs of your family member. They'll ask you if you have noticed any changes in your loved one's diet before they were admitted to the hospital, or if you have recently noticed any significant changes in their weight.
Pharmacists on the ICU team will make sure your family member is receiving medication that is safe and effective for them. They also provide information to doctors and ICU team members as well as you and the rest of your family on appropriate medication choices for specific conditions.
Patient Care Assistants (PCAs)
PCAs have a wide variety of responsibilities including helping nurses with re-positioning, lifting and transferring patients. They will also help your family member with their activities of daily living and work with physiotherapists on mobilization. They are also very knowledgeable on all of the equipment and supplies in the ICU.
Spiritual Care Providers
Spiritual Care staff (also known as Chaplains) are available for at all times. They offers personal visits, crisis support, sacramental ministry and grief counselling. If you would like to see a multi-faith Chaplain, or someone from a specific denomination or faith tradition please speak to a member of the health-care team.
Organ and Tissue Donation Coordinators
Organ and tissue donation coordinators are special nurses who work with the critical care nurse and the health care team to support patients and their families through the donation process.