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Supporting the Communication of Ventilated Patients in an Intensive Care Unit

Practice Report
  • Linda Page (NHS Ayrshire and Arran)
  • Nina McGinley (NHS Ayrshire and Arran)
Funding / Sponsorship: 
Work was funded by grants from NHS Education for Scotland.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff at University Hospital Crosshouse recognised a need to improve communication with ventilated patients in the unit, as communication difficulties were having a negative impact on some individuals. This paper will outline the improvements in patient care made through joint working of staff in ICU and SLT.


A literature review was undertaken to look at approaches to supporting patients communication in ICU. Questionaires were distributed to ICUs across Scotland as well as to staff in the unit. Next, the authors pooled their knowledge and experience of their respective fields in order to identify resources and strategies to implement in the ICU Unit. This resulted In the development of low-tech AAC resources to be trialled and the roll out of a staff education package.


As a result of this joint work between SLT and the ICU Unit, there are now low-tech AAC resources available at every bedside, with staff trained in how to support their patients to communicate using them. The use of an electro larynx in the unit has also been introduced.


The availability of the low-tech AAC resources within the unit is having a postive impact on patients and is part of the 'Big Unit Aim' to improve person centred care.

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