Role of the Family

Role of the Family

If you have a loved one on VV-ECMO, you have an important role in their care, and we want you to be able to spend time with them. Your familiar voice and face can be comforting. We encourage you to do the following things to help soothe the patient and encourage healing:

  • Bring pictures of your loved one with family and friends to hang up in the room.
  • Play soft music or watch their favorite TV show.
  • Read or sing to your loved one.
  • Hold their hand.
  • Gently massage their hands and feet with lotion.
  • Move their arms and legs for them(the nurse or physical therapist can show you how).
  • Create a journal.

Many ECMO survivors have very few memories of their stay in ICU. You can promote their emotional recovery by helping them remember some details and showing them how much they have overcome.

Each patient’s needs and limitations are unique, so please talk to the nurse before visiting or touching your loved one. The hospital room will have a lot of medical equipment in it. The nurse or ECMO specialist can show you how to safely move around your loved one to be close.

Even as you spend time helping your loved one, make sure you are also taking care of yourself. Take breaks, get enough to eat, drink plenty of water and try to get enough sleep. Your loved one has a long journey ahead. Some people find it helpful to keep a journal for themselves to remember important events. There are many online resources available to help with this, many of which you can share with friends and family members who are unable to visit.

If you are feeling emotionally distressed or have concerns about resources, the social work team at Northwestern Medicine is here to help you.