For many people involvement with intensive care is a daunting experience. For some it's part of the care plan after major surgery but for many others it's a sudden and unexpected event.

You find yourself in an alien environment unlike any you've known before where patients are connected to all kinds of machines and drips, where you might not be able to tell day from night and where there's constant noise and activity.

The people that work in the ICU do an amazing job, but even when patients are on the road to recovery they still have a long way to go before they're fully better. Depending on how ill the patient has been, recovery can take a year or more.

Knowing what might lie ahead and also that you're not alone in what you're going through can be a great help for both patients and relatives.

Resources for patients and relatives

Intensive care guide
Our guide to intensive care covers admission through to rehabilitation
Support groups
Meeting others who've been through similar experiences can help reassure patients though their recovery
Patient experiences
Read about the experiences of patients who've been through critical care
Relative experiences
Read the experiences of relatives of intensive care patients
Research
Find out how you can help others by helping with research
Useful contacts
Other organisations that may be able to give you help