Critical Care Unit

Critical Care Unit

Critical Care Unit at Alder HeyAlder Hey's Critical Care Unit (CCU) covers three areas: Intensive Care Unit, High Dependency Unit and the Burns Unit. There are 48 beds in the CCU and a large team of people will be involved in the care of your child.

Your child’s admission to CCU may have been planned and you may already had an opportunity to visit the Unit and been told what to expect. Some children will be admitted as an emergency from within the hospital or from another hospital.

How to get to CCU

The CCU is on the first floor of the hospital. All Units in CCU can be accessed from the main corridor. The Intensive Care Unit is made up of three sections called pods. The High Dependency Unit is made up of two sections also called pods. There is an intercom security system to use for when parents, carers and visitors wish to enter CCU. For security reasons parents, carers and visitors will be asked who they have come to visit before the door will be opened. Please do not hold the door open for other people as staff will need to identify all visitors for the safety of patients.

What happens when your child arrives at CCU?

You will be asked to wait in the parents lounge whilst we settle you child in and carry out certain procedures/tasks that need to take place immediately upon arrival. We appreciate that this is an anxious time for you but ask that you are patient whilst we assess and monitor your child. CCU is a very specialised area and we use an array of equipment in the care and treatment of patients. The nurse caring for your child will explain what is happening and about the equipment attached to your child. At the earliest opportunity a member of the medical team will speak to you about your child’s treatment and condition. We try to ensure that you are kept full aware of your child’s condition and management throughout their stay in CCU.

Contact us

If you are a parent or guardian, you are welcome to call us at any time of day or night on Alder Hey's main phone number, 0151 228 4811. You will need the phone number of the pod your child is in. Your child’s nurse will give you this information. If you are staying in Ronald McDonald House dial 8 and then the extension number of the pod your child is in.

We can and will only give information to a parent or guardian and ask that other family members receive information from parents/guardians rather than calling the CCU.

Further information


Find out more about our ECMO service, including how to make a referral, by clicking here.

Your child's medical team

Each morning and evening your child will be reviewed by the Critical Care Unit consultant, doctors and other members of the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) assigned to your child’s care. They will discuss and review your child’s progress as well as treatment options and the treatment plan for the day.Your child will be allocated a doctor or Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) to oversee their plan of care. There will be opportunities for you to discuss your child’s care throughout the day with the nursing and medical team.

Nursing Team

Your child will be allocated a trained nurse or an Assistant Practitioner, depending on the level of care your child needs. The nurse will be involved in all physical and emotional aspects of care as well as acting as an advocate for your child .They will also work with members of the MDT to ensure high standards of care are maintained throughout your child’s stay on CCU.

Helping us to care for your child

Your child with require specialist nursing care but we also value your contribution in their care. If you wish you can be involved in various activities such as nappy changing, reading and playing as appropriate to your child’s needs. If you are involved in caring tasks such as nappy changes you will be asked to wear a plastic apron and, if required, gloves.

Staff you are likely to meet


Often are the first people you meet. They are responsible for letting you into CCU and informing staff of your arrival. They carry out a range of administrative tasks and usually wear their own clothes.

Medical Team

CCU is supervised by Consultant Intensivists. There are doctors who have undergone further training in critical care. They support and supervise a group of specially trained registrars who are responsible for the day to day care of patients at the bedside.

They do not wear uniforms, but a number of other CCU staff do wear uniforms.

Health Care Assistants (HCA)

Health Care Assistants support the nursing team in the clinical areas. They assist with patient care for example: stocking up of resources, administrative duties, fetching equipment.

They wear purple tunics and trousers.


Housekeepers work with Health Care Assistant's to support the nursing team by arranging patient food, stocking up resources, ordering supplies and some cleaning duties.

Housekeepers wear black tops and trousers.

Domestic staff

CCU has a team of Domestics who are responsible for cleaning CCU each day. CCU has domestic cover in the morning, afternoons and evening. There is also a smaller team during other times.

There is a mix of domestic uniforms: dark trousers with either a green/white striped top or a blue T-shirt.

Assistant Practitioners

Assistant Practitioners look after lower dependency children under the supervision of a registered nurse.

They wear pale blue tunics and trousers.

Consultant Nurse and Advanced Practitioners (ANP)

Consultant Nurse and Advanced Practitioners are senior nurses who have had further intensive training. They are responsible for the management of patients and are involved in the training of nursing staff and junior doctors.

ANPs wear blue trousers and a teal top.

Critical Care Ward Manager

The Critical Care Ward Manager is responsible for supporting all staff in CCU ensuring a high standard of care is maintained at all times.

Critical Care Ward Managers wear a navy uniform with a red trim.

Sisters/Charge Nurses

This group of senior staff have a range of roles. They are responsible for the running of the shift across CCU, overseeing the care of a group of patients in a pod, and looking after the child as a bedside nurse. They can answer queries in the absence of the Ward Manager.

Sisters and Charge Nurses wear a navy blue scrub suit.

staff nurses

Staff nurses act as the bedside nurse, planning and delivering care to the patients.They may have undergone further training and take on extended roles within specialist teams.

They wear blue tunics and trousers.

Other teams involved in the delivery of care and treatment in CCU

As well as the Critical Care team and Medical Team there are other specialist teams involved inthe care of patients. They visit CCU on a daily basis.

  • Physiotherapists are responsible for respiratory assessment, patient positioning and chest physiotherapy.They also provide out of hours support.They wear a white tunic
  • Radiographers take x-rays of patients when needed on CCU.They wear a white tunic with a purple trim
  • Pharmacists visit CCU on a daily basis to assist the medical and nursing team with medications and prescriptions. They do not wear a uniform
  • Dieticians assess patients to make sure they are receiving the appropriate feed and calories if they are unable to eat normally. They do not wear a uniform

Visiting the Critical Care Unit

Visiting guidelines are designed to create a safe environment for all of the patients within CCU. We particularly want to minimise the risk of children having an infection that could have been prevented and ensure CCU staff are not hindered in caring for patients at all times.

If you have any questions about who can visit your child and at what time please speak to the nurse in charge of CCU.

Who can visit?

On admission we will ask you to identify a maximum of six people, including yourself, who will be allowed to visit your child. Only two visitors can be at your child’s bedside at any one time.

Any visitors showing signs of fever, cough, cold and/or stomach virus will not be allowed to visit.

There may be some occasions when visiting is restricted to just parents/guardian in an effort to stop the spread of illness such as seasonal flu. You will be notified of this as it happens.

During a visit:

  • Please respect the needs of others. The parents’ reception area is for parents and siblings only
  • Mobile phone should be put on “silent” and phone calls should be taken away from the bed space
  • Please do not use the interview rooms as waiting areas
  • Please do not use the main corridor to make phone calls or as a waiting area. This is a clinical area that must be kept clear at all times. Medical teams use this corridor to take patients for scans and to theatre and to bring emergencies to CCU from the Helipad

When you can visit CCU

Parents/guardians can visit their child for as long as they wish at any time of the day.

Only parents/guardians will be allowed to visit after 7pm.

You will be asked to leave the bed space twice a day (7.00 am – 7.30 am and 7.00pm – 7.30 pm). This is protected handover time and allows staff to discuss sensitive patient information and helps to ensure the confidentiality and safety of patients.

Siblings visiting CCU

If siblings want to visit CCU this should be discussed with the nurse in charge before they visit. This helps to protect both children from the risk of infection. If the visiting sibling is unwell or has had any contact with any infectious disease please do not bring them into CCU.

Parents are responsible for their own visiting children at all times.

Infection prevention control

  • On CCU we take infection prevention very seriously. Please tell the bedside nurse if you or anyone in your family has been exposed to any contagious diseases (such as chicken pox) on admission or as soon as you become aware of this
  • To reduce the risk of infection CCU may be closed to all visitors when surgical procedures take place
  • To help us reduce the risk of your child developing an infection we ask that you do the follow the guidelines below
  • Please remove outdoor clothing before entering your child’s bed space. Roll up long sleeves then wash and gel your hands before touching your child and when leaving the bed space
  • If your child is in isolation please follow the nurses’ advice about protective clothing and seek advice about sibling visiting
  • Parents and guardians must remain in their child’s bed space/cubicle. Please do not visit any other patient bed space within CCU. This is for infection control reasons as well as maintaining confidentiality for your child and other patient in CCU
  • Do not bring food, fresh flowers or balloons into the CCU
  • Any drinks brought into CCU must be in a cup with a lid
  • Please do not bring any toys, blankets or teddies as they pose an infection risk

Helping us with infection prevention control

Please challenge any of our team if they have not washed or gelled their hands before entering your child’s bed space.

Other information and facilities

The Alder Hey atrium has a variety of services for families. These include a cash machine, a post box, payment machines for the car park, and some places to buy food and drink. The hospital is built in a park so there are peaceful places you can go outside for a walk or some fresh air.

The hospital is close to a number of other supermarkets and shops.


We cannot provide overnight stay facilities next to your child’s bedside as staff need to be able to deliver care safely at all times of day and night.

When your child is admitted to CCU staff will contact Ronald McDonald House and request a room. Ronald McDonald is a separate charitable organisation and the allocation of rooms lies with their staff. If a room is not available or you do not meet their accommodation criteria you can still use their facilities on a daily basis. Facilities include the use of showers, kitchens, laundry. Please ask your child’s nurse about day passes to Ronald McDonald House.

If you have arrived unexpectedly overnight CCU has some basic emergency patient packs for families

For your own well- being it is really important that you try to get some sleep and you are rested for when your child is awake and needs your attention.


We encourage breast feeding as a way of providing nutrition for babies and infants. Whilst on CCU your child may not be able to be breastfed and if this is the case we have facilities for mother to express milk. We will store the expressed milk in a fridge/freezer to be used when required. There is an electric pump on CCU and staff can show mothers how to use it. If mothers have a pump at home they are welcome to bring it in but it will need safety checking before being used.

A community midwife is available twice a week on Monday and Friday from 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm by appointment only. The midwife can be contacted via staff or by dialling extension 3534.

For urgent advice please call Liverpool Women’s Hospital on 0151 708 9988 and ask for maternity Bleep 104. If you are a newly delivered mother we recommend that you see the midwife and receive the checks and advice you would normally get at home. If you are a breastfeeding mother of a child under six months old you are entitled to receive a free meal from the catering department. Please ask your nurse for more details.

Spiritual Care

The Spiritual Care Team is based in the Sanctuary on the lower floor of the “Tree House” and can be accessed from Level 2. As well as the main worship space there is a quiet room where families may reflect or pray in peace. Ablution facilities are available as well as prayer mats and screens.

The Spiritual Care Team are there for all patients and their families, whether they profess to have a faith or not. Some families may feel the need for prayer or wish to have their child baptised. Others may just need some quiet support, someone to talk to or for reassurance. Whatever the need the Spiritual Care Team is available Monday to Friday during office hours and provides an on call service at any time of the day or night and can be contacted through the nursing staff. They can also assist those of other faiths who have different worship needs and can act as a link to representatives of other denominations and faiths when required.

Equipment in the CCU

Your child may need many types of equipment to support them during their stay in CCU. For example: some equipment allows the monitoring of your child’s vital signs such as their heart rate, others deliver drugs. The nursing staff will explain everything to you but please do not hesitate to ask questions or if you have concerns.

Your child is likely to be on a ventilator or a machine that delivers oxygen and supports their breathing. At times the machinery may be quite noisy and may sound an alarm.

Please do not switch alarms yourself.

Research in the CCU

In the CCU we are committed to delivering the best care for patients that we can. Research studies try to develop better treatments for all patients on CCU. You may be asked if you would be willing for your child to take part in a study by one of the Research Nurses. This is entirely up to you and refusal to take part in a trial will not affect the treatment and care your child receives.

Family Diary

We encourage families to keep a diary during their child’s stay in CCU. Often patients will have little or no recollection of their time in CCU. The family diary can be useful to look back at events during their stay. The following pages can be used to record what has happened in CCU

Parents should speak to the bedside nurse before taking photographs of their child and equipment.

Please note: to respect privacy the taking of photographs of other patients is not permitted.

Feedback on your child’s care in CCU and satisfaction survey

We take feedback very seriously as we continually strive to improve our service. To do this we have devised questionnaires that are completed by families anonymously. The purpose is to receive feedback that will help us address any issues parents and patients have encountered and to develop our care. We aim to give out the questionnaires to parents before their child is discharged from CCU. If you have not received a questionnaire please ask your nurse or staff at reception.

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