Visitation in critical care units is based on practices initiated with the first intensive care units in the 1960s. Visitation was restricted because little was understood about the impact on the patient or the family, including children. Family-focused care is a challenging concept to implement into practice. A focus on family needs should drive a critical review of current visitation practices in every critical care unit. Research has demonstrated that rigid and restrictive visitation should be abolished, and may actually be harmful to the patient, family members, and family dynamics.1 

Family-focused care is ideally based on the identified needs of the family. What constitutes “family” is defined in the broadest terms, to include whomever the patient has identified as a significant relation. The traditional nuclear family is no longer an inclusive description of every patients “family.” Research has...

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