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Paediatric intensive care

Children's Services (Paediatrics)

The Paediatric Intensive Care unit (PICU) at Addenbrookes cares for children and young people who need special care for serious medical or surgical conditions.

Children in paediatric intensive care require intensive care support from doctors, specialised nurses and other members of the PICU team. We are a 13 bedded unit, currently located on C3 3rd floor of the main hospital. Many of our patients are admitted directly to the unit from other hospitals as emergencies. Patients may also be transferred from the emergency department or other wards at Addenbrookes. Some of our patients have a planned stay with us after an operation.

How to find us

The PICU is on Level 3 of the hospital.  From the main hospital entrance: Turn right as you enter through the revolving door, turn left and walk past the hairdresser, across the corridor to the C and D ward lifts. Use the stairs or lift to go up to level three (one floor up from the Concourse). As you exit the stairs or lifts, turn left, then left again and ward C3 is in front of you. Please ring the doorbell to the left of the main door and state who you are visiting to gain access to the PICU which is situated through ward C3.

Who will look after my child?

Our 13 beds are staffed by specially trained children’s nurses and your child will be allocated a nurse at the beginning of each shift. Your child will be allocated a consultant on admission who will remain your child’s consultant until they leave PICU/HDU. They will oversee the medical care for your child. Specialist registrar doctors will be available 24 hours a day to care for your child.  There is always a nurse in charge of the shift who can help with any questions you may have.

Can I see my child straight away?

This may be possible if your child is requiring high dependency care but will depend on your child’s condition. You may be asked to wait when your child is first admitted until we are able to get them settled in to the unit. Nurses and doctors will keep you fully informed and will keep you waiting no longer than necessary. 

Can siblings visit?

Yes, siblings can visit and we encourage this as it can help with their understanding of the situation. During times of winter vomiting bugs the Trust does restrict children visiting. If this is the case you will be informed at the time. 

Can I stay overnight with my child?

Yes, but not at the child’s bedside or in the parents room. We have parent accommodation on the hospital grounds. Acorn house is run through the sick children’s trust and endeavours to provide a space for you to sleep, cook your own meals, and have time away from the unit. It is very important that you get some rest while on PICU/HDU so please do not feel you have to stay if you would prefer to return home overnight. 

Can I touch my child?

Yes, of course. We encourage you to touch your child and become involved in any basic cares that you feel you would like to do. You play a very important role in your child’s care and we encourage this as long as you are comfortable to do so. Talking to your child and playing favourite stories and songs can also help and don’t forget their favourite teddy or special toy! 
We have a dedicated hospital play specialist on PICU/HDU. Play has a special function in the hospital environment, and hospital/registered play specialists lead playful activities and use play as therapeutic tool, when your child is ready. It is also important that your child has some quiet time too though.

What facilities are available?

We have a parent’s room available for your use. It contains tea and coffee making facilities, a fridge and a microwave. There are newsagents, canteens, cash points, and a bank in the main concourse. 

Discharge from PICU/HDU

When your child is well enough to leave Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) or the Paediatric High Dependency unit (PHDU) they will either return to a hospital near where you live, or they will be transferred to one of the children’s wards here at Addenbrooke’s. 

We appreciate that leaving the unit can be another stressful time for you and may provoke feelings of fear and anxiety. However, it is important for you to know that we only discharge children when they are getting better and this is a positive step in their recovery. 

Your child will be cared for by a team or teams of doctors depending on your child’s needs. The teams include junior doctors and a consultant who will head the team. They will monitor your child’s progress and visit daily, although they will not all be available on the wards at all times. 

As your child is in the recovery stage, a nurse will not need to be at your child’s bedside at all times. This allows you more of an opportunity to have a more active role in your child’s care. The ward may be noisier than PICU/PHDU as there may be more children in each room, more visitors and the children are not as sick. There are televisions at each bed space and a family room with tea and coffee facilities. One family member is able to sleep by your child’s bedside. 

Privacy & Dignity

We have same sex bays and bathrooms in all wards, except critical care and theatre recovery. In these areas we use high-tech equipment and/or specialist one to one care is required.