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Initial assessment of a guesthouse for relatives of patients admitted to a general intensive care unit


The families of critically ill patients constantly worry about the welfare of their loved ones. To this end, we recently established a guesthouse in close proximity to our ICU exclusively serving the families of patients hospitalized in the unit. The purpose of this study was to evaluate their response to this new service.


The ICU comprises a 10-bed acute care unit and a four-bed mechanical ventilation weaning unit. The guesthouse comprises six single rooms, a communal kitchen and bathing facilities, situated on the floor below the ICU. The guesthouse is restricted to use by relatives of ICU patients. All families are informed of this option at the first meeting with the ICU staff and rooms are allocated when available (i.e. no specific criteria for allocating a room are applied). Once a patient is no longer being treated in the ICU, the room must be vacated. Questionnaires were distributed to the first 80 families using the facility, after the occupant had vacated the guesthouse. Where appropriate, responses were graded on a scale of 1 (negative response) to 5 (very positive response).


The rate of return was 43/82 (52.4%). All the guests were first-degree relatives of the patients. Mean traveling time from home to the hospital was 1.26 hours (range, 0.25–3.5 hours). The mean duration of stay was 19.69 (range, 2–120) days, and 31/40 (77%) respondents to this question stayed in the guesthouse for the whole period. Two respondents used this service only on Saturdays when religious Jews do not drive, whereas the remainder used it intermittently. Forty guests (93.02%) gave as the main reason for requesting a room a strong need to remain at the hospital at all times. Thirty-eight (88.37%) felt that the continuous presence of one family member at the hospital enabled other family members to continue with their daily routine. The majority (55.81%) graded the physical conditions of the guesthouse as 5/5, 37.2% as 4/5 and 6.9% as 3/5. Regarding close contact with other families, 23.2% felt this to have a very positive impact, 18.6% a moderate impact, 34.1% felt it had no impact and 4.65% claimed this had a negative effect. There was a very positive response both to the way the ICU staff interacted with the guests (mean score 4.69) and to fulfilled expectations (mean score 4.41). Finally, 37% felt a similar service should be provided to all families in the hospital, 30% only in selected cases, and 30% only to families of ICU patients.


The positive feedback received is encouraging and suggests that a definite need has been fulfilled. Efforts should be made to open such facilities in other units in the hospital, especially ICUs.

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Goren, Y., Cohen, J., Shimon, O. et al. Initial assessment of a guesthouse for relatives of patients admitted to a general intensive care unit. Crit Care 9, P244 (2005).

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  • Intensive Care Unit
  • Mechanical Ventilation
  • Positive Response
  • Acute Care
  • Initial Assessment