Families shape Randwick's future CICU

The Children’s Intensive Care Unit and Redevelopment teams have been working with families and our architect to ensure the project improves the patient and family experience, enables new models of care and transforms health outcomes for children.

Numerous patient stories like Dusty's are underpinning the design of the new Children's Intensive Care Unit (CICU) on the first floor of the future Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick (SCH).

Dusty was born with a rare condition that prevented food and saliva from travelling from his mouth to his stomach, meaning that everything he swallowed risked obstructing his lungs.

Three months after his birth in May 2019, he was transferred to the CICU. The family spent six months going back and forth to Dusty's bedside, often sharing moments of trepidation and joy near other families enduring unique challenges.

Privacy at the time of being in the CICU is everything. It is a very overwhelming time for everybody in there, patients and parents alike," Dusty's mother Claire recalled. "I understand that sometimes it isn't possible, but I had never spent a night with my son from birth. I found it very hard to come to terms with."

Parent discharge surveys and community consultation allowed families to give feedback during the unit’s design phase. In particular, the Consumer and Community Advisory Committee helped tailor the waiting area into a more calming space for families and carers.

The original design was an open area with the inclusion of soft, movable furniture. Collective feedback from the Committee suggested the space lacked privacy, particularly with the heightened emotions families and carers often experience in this space. These concerns were addressed by including pods, wall partitions, dividers and alternative flooring.

Clinical Nurse Specialist and Redevelopment Project Lead Natalie Pidcock said the first consideration was always the patient with every decision made in the hospital redevelopment.

How is this going to improve their hospital experience? What can we create to make the experience more comfortable for them?" Clinical Nurse Specialist Natalie Pidcock explained. "The patient is at the centre of everything we do.

More about the new Children's Intensive Care Unit

The new Children's Intensive Care Unit will have the capacity to deliver 24 intensive care beds and six close observation beds. The unit will include single-patient bedrooms with carer zones, providing families more privacy and autonomy while ensuring visibility for nearby clinicians. 

 Families will benefit from quiet spaces where they can feel separated from activities in nearby bed spaces," said Clinical Nurse Specialist Natalie Pidcock.

"Currently, it is just an open space, so you don't have the ability or flexibility to turn lights on and off to create a dark, comforting space or tailor the environment appropriately to the patient".

Family amenities will make it more convenient for parents to stay on-site. A designated family space will include a private lounge, food preparation area, breastfeeding facilities and overnight accommodation. An outdoor terrace will feature a safety-conscious garden, including oxygen and electricity for ventilated patients.

Acting Head of the Department for Occupational Therapy, Kate O'Shea, said the outdoor terrace and private rooms would assist with patients' early rehabilitation, including prescribing equipment and supporting self-care and physical therapy.

We often do therapy sessions outside, so having a space where children and young people can be outside but still close to the medical and nursing care they need is really beneficial," Occupational Therapist Kate O'Shea said.

"It gives (patients) a dedicated space where they can participate in their occupations- like being able to play or improve their hand function so they can write, draw and feed themselves.”

The CICU, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Paediatric Intensive Care units are part of a $658 million investment to deliver the brand new Sydney Children's Hospital Stage 1 and Minderoo Children's Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Randwick. With finer details of the CICU like furniture, colour schemes and artwork still in the pipeline, the community will continue to play a vital role in personalising the design before the hospital opens in 2025.