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Forest ward paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) information for parents

Welcome to PICU

Welcome to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. We are a unit that looks after children from babies to young people. We provide care for a variety of different conditions. Our aim is to provide high quality care for all patients admitted to PICU and support patients and families through this emotional and stressful time.

Admission to PICU can cause significant emotional distress to children and their families. You may be worried by what you see, for your own child and other children on the unit. The environment, people, equipment and your child’s situation may cause anxiety, and stress. Your child may look different when they are very sick and this can be very upsetting. We are here to help with any questions and concerns you have, please ask the nurse looking after your child.

Where is PICU?

The Evelina London Children’s Hospital is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and is located on the St Thomas’ site. The PICU is called Forest Ward and is on the second floor. It is accessible only via the ‘Big lift’, sign posted from the entrance to Evelina London. Walk past the red glass lifts and then turn left opposite the coffee shop. The lift is signposted from there.

Please ask the reception desk if you are unsure and they will be happy to help. As you arrive on the second floor, there is a set of double doors with an intercom system for access to PICU.

Please ring the buzzer and wait for a staff member to open the doors. The doors in PICU are electric and open slowly. When the unit is busy it can sometimes take a few moments to answer the door. We apologise for this and appreciate your patience in this matter.

Visiting your child and security

We ask you to remove your coats before entering the unit. There are hooks provided, located in the hand washing area (first right through the first set of double doors).

We encourage you to be with your child as much as you can and parents are given access to the unit 24 hours a day. We also recommend that you take regular breaks and try to sleep at night. All other visitors may visit between 9am-8pm. For noise, access and infection control purposes we ask that there are only two visitors at a bed space at a time.

All parents and visitors must report to the reception desk to collect a visitor’s pass which needs to be worn all the time. At night and on weekends all parents and visitors are required to sign in and out at the Evelina London reception desk.

For the safety of your child, we will not let friends or family visit in your absence without your prior permission. Please also let your bedside nurse or the nurse in charge know if there is anyone who you don’t want to visit. We are unable to give out information to anyone who is not a parent over the phone, so if a relative phones for an update we will ask you to take the call or ask the person to contact you directly.

We will ask you to provide us with a password that you can share with your relatives if you are happy for information to be discussed.

What happens in PICU?

PICU provides specialist and intensive medical and nursing care. A child may be admitted after an operation or transferred from a children’s ward or Emergency Department. Parents have expressed that they have often been surprised and concerned by the equipment and amount of lines needed to treat their child. Your bedside nurse can explain what all the lines and wires are for, and we have found that this helps alleviate anxiety.

When you are ready, we will encourage you to help in your child’s care. It can be a daunting but your nurse will help to support you. Your presence and voice helps your child and you can further help them by stroking their hair and holding their hand. They may have been given medications to make them sleepy but they can often still hear you.

If your child is stable enough, we may be able to get them out of their bed or cot to have a cuddle with you, even when they are being nursed on a ventilator.

There may be times, when a procedure is completed on the unit, and although it may not be your child, we will ask all parents and visitors to leave for this time.

Medical equipment

These pages explain more about the variety of monitoring and supportive equipment your child may be connected to. In order to protect the dignity of our patients’, we have used a manikin to demonstrate the equipment used.



Who will look after your child?



Infection Control

The hospital has strict infection control procedures to protect all the patients, visitors and staff. Removing coats and washing your hands helps to reduce the risk of infection. Please ensure that all your visitors are aware of the infection control procedures. Visitors are not permitted to visit if they are unwell.

Please speak to the nurse in charge if you are unsure if it is safe for you to visit. You will notice that staff will perform thorough hand washing before and after any procedures with your child. They will use gloves and coloured aprons, goggles and facemasks.

Please feel free to ask staff if they have washed their hands, and we may ask you or your visitors if you have washed your hands. There is a bottle of alcohol gel at each bed space and entrances to PICU.

Sometimes we have to isolate children with certain medical conditions. We have cubicles for this with signs on the door to explain who may enter the room. Your nurse will explain further this if it is needed.

Diaries and photos

We will offer you a diary for you to keep a record of your child’s progress. Your nurses will be happy to write in this if you wish them too. Parents often find this helpful, and can also assist in explaining this time to your child once they are better or old enough.

You are welcome to take photographs of your child in PICU, which can also help your child when they have left PICU and can be shown to siblings. Please be mindful of other patients and the staffs’ privacy when taking photos and only take photos of your own child. If you would like to take a photo with a member of staff you may ask them for permission to do so. T

Transfer to ward

Once your child no longer requires intensive care treatment they will be transferred to a children’s ward, either in Evelina London or in your local hospital. This transition will only be made once the medical and nursing teams think that your child is ready to move.

If your child is transferred to Evelina London, when they are on the ward your child will be nursed alongside more than one child at a time (your nurse may be caring for your child as well as other children). We will try to help you prepare for this by encouraging you to take over a lot more of their normal care, such as changing nappies or feeding them.

You may of course discuss any concerns that you have with the bedside nurse or doctors. Before you child is transferred, we can try to arrange a visit to the ward if you feel this would be helpful.

Please ask for the "When your child is transferred from PICU" booklet if you have not already received one. 

Mobile phones

To keep levels of noise to a minimum for our children, please ensure all mobile phones are turned to silent. We ask that if you need to make or take a phone call that you please leave the unit to do so. Texting is allowed.


There is an interactive, electronic information screen for visitors near the reception desk, you may find this useful. It contains information on the unit and local facilities.





Support for families

Being on PICU can be a very difficult for families. It can be an incredibly stressful time and parents have described feelings of anxiety, lack of control and anger. These feelings can be difficult to express to family and friends as well as to the staff directly looking after your child. There are a variety of other people who can help you and your family at this time.

Hospital school

Evelina London has its own school. It has classrooms for early years, primary and secondary children. Each visit is tailored for the individual needs for the child and teachers may visit children at their bedside if they are unable to go to the school.


If English is not your first language and you are not confident in speaking English or only speak a little, interpreters are available. We can also use language line, an over the phone translating service. Please let your bedside nurse know if you would like to access an interpreting service.


We encourage parents to leave their cars at home and use public transport where possible as there is limited parking and it is very costly. If you have been admitted to PICU as an emergency, we can organise for you to receive 24 hours of parking without charge until you find alternative parking. Please ask your bedside nurse to alert our Security Team to your car. There is some limited parking for parents who are resident in Ronald McDonald House but this should be agreed beforehand.

Congestion Charge

Please be aware that Evelina London falls within the Congestion Zone which operates from 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). To pay the congestion charge or for more information ring 0343 22 222 or visit www.tfl.gov.uk

Some things you may need

For you
 Money/bank card
 Mobile phone and charger
 Pay the congestion charge For you and your child
 Toothbrush & toothpaste
 Toiletries
 Hairbrush
 Clothes for yourself and your child
 Underwear and socks
 Nappies
 Dummy if your child has one
 Your child’s favorite toy/comforter/book (labelled with their name)
 Any items of religious importance to you and your child
 Glasses/contact lenses & solutions/hearing aid
 Medication for you and your child
 You child’s red book (personal health records)

Useful Telephone Numbers

  • PICU Reception: 020 718 84500 or 020 718 84501
  • Bed spaces 1-7: 020 718 85888
  • Bed spaces 8-12: 020 718 84504
  • Bed spaces 13-17: 020 718 84505
  • Cubicle 18: 0207 18 89721
  • Cubicle 20 020 7188 84500 (option 5)

Knowledge and Information Centre

The knowledge and information centre (KIC) is on the ground floor of North wing in St Thomas’. There is public access to computers with internet access. Open on weekdays 8am till 6pm. They have a wide range of leaflets relevant to all hospital stays.

Charities, support groups and funds

If you need further support, please speak to your child’s nurse or the nurse in charge, as we may recommend charities, support groups and funds that might be of benefit to you and your family. Feedback In order to improve the way in which we look after and support children and families we seek feedback from yourselves and visitors. There are parent surveys at the desk. We would appreciate if you would take a few minutes to fill one out and return it to the nurse or ward clerk.

If you have any concerns then you may speak with the Nurse in Charge, Consultant or our Matron. Please be assured that we will treat all information confidentially and this will in no way affect your child’s care. It is often useful to write down any questions that you may have, please use the space on the back page of this booklet if you would like to.

Your comments and concerns

For advice, support or to raise a concern, contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). 
Telephone: 020 7188 8801 (PALS)
Email: pals@gstt.nhs.uk

To make a complaint, contact the complaints department. 
Telephone: 020 7188 3514 (complaints)
Email: complaints2@gstt.nhs.uk 

Language and accessible support services

If you need an interpreter or information about your care in a different language or format, please get in touch:

Telephone: 020 7188 8815
Email: languagesupport@gstt.nhs.uk

NHS Choices Provides online information and guidance on all aspects of health and healthcare, to help you make choices about your health.

From the main entrance of Evelina London, walk towards the back of the building. Following the wheel chair signs. Pass through the double doors and take the ‘Big lift’ up to the second floor. 

Where next?

Find more about Forest Ward at Evelina London.

Leaflet number: 2063/VER2
Date published: October 2017
Review date: October 2020
© 2017 Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust



Printable PDF

Download Forest ward PICU patient information (PDF 850Kb).

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Evelina London Medicines Helpline

If you have any questions or concerns please contact

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s medicines, please speak to the staff caring for them or contact our helpline.

Tel: 020 7188 3003 
(Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm)

Email: letstalkmedicines@

©  Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
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