Beaumont Hospital

Print Print Page | A | A | A

Life after ICU

After you have been ill, especially for a long time, it can take a while to feel yourself again.  How you feel and how long it takes to return to normal living will depend upon the type of illness you have had as well as how long you were unwell for.

The information below deals with some common problems that people may experience when they leave the Intensive Care unit. However everyone is different and you may find that you recover well and quickly.  However the doctors and nurses in the unit are always available to discuss any particular worries or concerns you have about moving on from the Unit.

Moving to the Ward

After spending time in the ICU, your body will likely feel weak. The physiotherapist will likely give you exercises to help you strengthen your muscles again. You will get tired easily at the start, but it important for your recovery to keep up with the physio advice.

You will initially be moved out of the ICU to either another specialist area like coronary care, or to the high dependency section of a ward. This can be a frightening time for patients and families as you no longer have one-to-one nursing, and are still not well enough to leave the hospital. The process of relearning many simple things will continue, such are walking, eating, drinking and washing for yourself.

When you transfer to the ward, the ICU staff “handover” all the details of your stay in the ICU, including the plan for your ongoing treatment, your medications and your rehabilitation progress. It can be difficult time as you meet a lot of new faces on the ward.

The visiting times on the ward can often be different to the ICU, and you may now have more visitors now that you are recovering. This can also be tiring, so rest when you can. Your sleep can often be disturbed after a stay in the ICU. Ear plugs and an eye mask may help you rest. Speak with your family if you feel you have too many visitors and find this tiring. Also speak with your nurse or doctor for further advice.

This can be a very worrying time for families and relatives as you have become accustomed to ICU care and familiar with the nurses. You can also ask to speak with your relative’s doctor/surgeon or nursing staff if you have any questions about the ongoing treatment plan. A meeting will be arranged for you as soon as possible.

Returning Home after ICU


Leaving the hospital after experiencing critical illness is a major step in your recovery. It is a very positive step, but it will take time and effort for you to return to normal life. You will probably be given a plan on exercise advice and information on how to continue your physio and physical recovery.

An occupational therapist may have advised on adjustments to your home in order for the environment to be safe for you during your recovery. You may also need to use walking aids or other supports, and may be linked in to community services for ongoing physical rehab. 

Once you’re home, you’re GP will likely be involved in your general care and recovery. They will support you in regaining your strength and discussing any ongoing concerns with you. If your concerns are more related to ICU, make contact with the ICU and we will try and put you in touch with someone who can help.

It can take time to return to previous activities and hobbies and being also sexual relationships. Take your time and discuss your concerns with your partner and GP if necessary.

ICUSteps is a volunteer led group who meet to share and support on their recovery. Please see the section on ICUSteps for further information. Here you will also find a link to a guide for patients and relatives on ICU. This may provide you with further information.

Post ICU Syndrome

Post ICU syndrome (PICS) is a condition that may affect you or your family after they leave ICU. It may involve a change in your relatives.  More information on this topic can be found HERE.


ICUSteps is a voluntary group of individuals who have experienced and ICU stay and their family. ICU nurses also attend in a voluntary capacity. It can be helpful to share your experience with others who may have had the same difficulties as you. The group meets approx. every 8weeks and you can find more information HERE.