Family Visiting in the Department of Critical Care Medicine . A Co-Design study.

Gillian  Rand1, Miss Meredith Eberle1, Cindy Weatherburn1, Melanie  Greenwood2

1Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, Australia, 2University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


The review of visiting hours was identified as an opportunity for DCCM to engage with consumers to improve the visiting hour’s policy and better meet the needs of the patient, their families and staff.

A literature review identified that different methodologies had been used to investigate visiting hours in critical care settings, but they were mostly related to satisfaction surveys following implementation of unrestricted visiting hours. The overall findings in the literature suggest family visiting should be more open and individualised. Experience based co-design methodology had never been used to investigate visiting hours.

Sequential mixed methods data was collected over 3 stages: Baseline surveys from staff and visitors (n=108), three focus groups with staff and in-depth interviews with patients (n=1) and family members (n=3). Following data integration eight themes were identified which were presented to the key stakeholders:

  • Family presence is important
  • Waiting is traumatic
  • Waiting is expected
  • Communication is important
  • Flexibility to break the rules
  • Family disrupt care
  • Staff need space
  • Organisational impact

The study outcomes and use of experience-based co-design led to several recommendations including the need for improved communication, improved education and flexibility with consistency.  A new visiting guideline was developed in consultation with key stakeholders with a focus of “Patient centred Visiting”.


Gillian is a critical care registered nurse with extensive experience in critical care and a passion for patient centred care. Whilst a grade 4 identified a gap in practice with outdated visiting hours in the department of critical care medicine. Taking advantage of a co-design course being offered at the time led the research team to undertake a review of visiting hours using this methodology.