The lived experiences of patients admitted to an intensive care unit in a public hospital in Ugu District.
Introduction: During their stay in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) most patients experience a lack of privacy, sleep disturbances, noise, pain and stress. Patients need continuous close monitoring in ICU. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experiences of patients admitted to an intensive care unit in a public hospital in the Ugu District. Methodology: A phenomenological approach was used to describe the lived experiences of patients admitted to an ICU in a public hospital in Ugu District. Two unstructured interviews were conducted with each participant; an initial and a verifying interview, each lasting approximately 15-30 minutes. The researcher applied the principle of saturation and a total of 6 participants took part in this study. Findings: The findings showed that the participants had positive and negative recollections of their stay in the ICU. The experiences indicated that they viewed the ICU as a hostile environment which was not conducive to meeting their needs while they were admitted to the ICU. Many of the participants experienced bad dreams which is common in critically ill patients admitted to an ICU. The findings showed that the various religious and cultural beliefs of the patients came into conflict with the functioning of the ICU environment and that this caused anxiety in the participants. Although the participants found certain of the procedures painful, some reported that these had been helpful in providing relief, as they were able to breathe more easily after the removal of secretions. The findings showed that, at the time of their transfer out, participants were not given much information concerning their discharge from the ICU to the ward. Recommendations: A number of recommendations were proposed for the ICU staff, for education and for further research in an attempt to focus more on patients' experiences. Conclusion: This study allows the voices of the patients to be heard so that ICU staff can pay special attention.