"Can I see my Daddy?": child and adult family members as visitors in the adult intensive care unit




Chalifour, Emma E.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this qualitative study was to supply preliminary insights into improving the support of visiting families with children who are minors during the intensive care unit stay (ICU) of an adult family member. Hospitals often restrict children from visiting in ICUs; however, a review of the literature revealed that despite the prevalence of this policy, there has been little research into whether visiting is harmful or supportive (Liu et al., 2013; Manici & Ghillani, 2018). Although family-centred care (FCC) is considered beneficial for adult family members (Davidson et al., 2012; Eggenberger & Nelms, 2007), there is little evidence that policymakers have considered the involvement of children during an ICU stay (Knutsson & Bergbom, 2007). In this study, seven families shared their experiences of the critical illness of a loved one. Using a constructionist lens, this study explored the interaction between the gathered stories and the policies and practices associated with child and adult family members visiting adult critical care contexts in British Columbia (BC), Canada. This study found that the involvement of children in a family illness event is important and that tailoring involvement to the individual preferences of the child, and their family, is crucial. While navigating an ICU stay, families may benefit from a collaborative approach between the child, their caregiver/s, and a member of the ICU team. The goal of this research is that it will resonate with its readers and move people to deeper curiosity and further study. This exploratory study led to a list of seven preliminary recommendations that could inform the interdisciplinary policies and practices associated with supporting child and adult family members as visitors in an ICU. Further research is needed to explore the experiences of families with children more fully, and to understand the systems that need to be in place to support them during the critical illness of a loved one.



ICU Visitation Policies, Family-centred Care, critical illness, Children as visitors in the adult ICU, Child and Family-centred care