Hospital  >  Departments  >  Critical Care Medicine  >  Navigating the ICU - OLD  >  Who is who in the ICU?  >  Who are the other health-care professionals involved in the care of my loved one?

Who are the other health-care professionals involved in the care of my loved one?


Dietitians provide professional advice on food, nutrition and diet. The critical care dietitians guide nutrition therapy, identify patients’ nutrition needs, and develop plans for each patient.


Pharmacists attend daily patient rounds every morning. They review the patients’ medications, helping to ensure that all the medications are necessary and that each medication is effective and safe. The pharmacists also monitor for side effects and drug interactions, and recommend changes when necessary.

  • At one point during your loved one’s stay in the ICU, a pharmacist or another member of the pharmacy team will ask you about medications your family member was taking before hospital admission.
  • It would be helpful if you could bring in a list of medications and the doses, or provide the pharmacist with the name and phone number of the pharmacy where your family member gets his or her prescriptions filled.


Physiotherapists play a key role in rehabilitation. They work to restore mobility, correct impairments and prevent further decline.

In the ICU, patients are assessed by a physiotherapist soon after admission.

  • The physiotherapist works with the patient to establish goals and a treatment plan.
  • The physiotherapist carries out a wide variety of treatments including range of motion, strengthening exercises, deep breathing, coughing, and mobilization.
  • If appropriate, family members are taught exercises that they can do with their loved one.

Research team

The research team helps with clinical and academic research studies that could lead to better medical treatments and improve the quality of care.

In the ICU, a research study is a way to gather information on

  • A medication;
  • A medical procedure;
  • A medical device;
  • Care processes, such as communication and teamwork.

There are different types of studies that take place in the ICU. They can involve:

  • Observing patient’s care with the usual treatment and comparing it with a study treatment;
  • Offering a new medication or medical intervention;
  • Conducting observations, questionnaires and interviews with the clinical staff, the patients and family members.

All studies that take place in the ICU at Sunnybrook have undergone a review by the Sunnybrook Research Ethics Board, which oversees the ethical conduct of research at the hospital.

  • All patients in the ICU can be considered for participation in any of the research studies taking place at the time of their hospitalization. The staff intensivist responsible for your loved one’s care will be consulted before the research team presents the research options to you or the patient.
  • For research studies where consent is required, participation in research is voluntary. That means patients and family members can choose not to be involved in a study. They can also withdraw from the study at any time without affecting the standard of care they receive at Sunnybrook.
  • The best way to learn more about research eligibility or the current studies taking place in the ICU is to contact Critical Care Research at 416-480-6100 ext. 61719.

Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapistRespiratory Therapists (RT) are responsible for the management of the breathing machine (ventilator), ongoing assessment of the patient’s breathing and development of the care plan. You can read more about breathing machines here.

Social Workers

Social Workers are experts in helping patients and families cope with critical-care situations. They can help you connect with community resources and provide support regarding personal, family and financial concerns.

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) focus on the patient’s swallowing, speech and language capabilities, which can be impaired in ICU patients.

  • SLPs assess and treat swallowing and communication disorders;
  • They provide education and counseling about swallowing and communication impairments to patients and their families.
  • They collaborate with physicians, nurses and other members of the team about patients’ condition and progress.

Should you have concerns about your family members’ swallowing or communication while they are in the ICU, talk to the bedside nurse or physician about a possible evaluation by a speech-language pathologist.

Spiritual and Religious Care Providers

Chaplains are spiritual and emotional care providers, offering support to patients, families, loved ones, care givers and staff of all faiths and no faith. Critical care chaplains are here to listen and offer compassionate care. You can call them for help whenever you are:

  • Feeling anxious about your or you loved one’s health or treatment;
  • Facing difficult life decisions;
  • Struggling with the meaning of illness and trauma;
  • Needing comfort at the end of life or at the time of death;
  • Grieving a loss;
  • Involved in a traumatic or emergency situation;
  • Seeking help to find inner resources of coping, strength, or faith;
  • Requesting prayer, sacred texts, sacraments or cultural rituals of healing.

There are also quiet spaces available for meditation, reading and worship:

  • A Chapel;
  • A Synagogue;
  • A Muslim Prayer Room (with women’s prayer section).

All are located on the ground floor of E wing near the McLaughlin Auditorium. There are also a variety of green spaces at Sunnybrook Hospital available for contemplation and reflection.

The critical care chaplain can be reached in person every weekday afternoon, and can be found on the critical care unit. You can also ask the staff to page the chaplain.

To leave a non-urgent voice-mail message, please call at 416-480-6100 ext. 62723.

Sunnybrook’s on-call chaplains are also available to help, and can be reached at 416-480-6100 ext. 64421 in the evenings and weekends.

If you would like to speak to a member of the inter-professional health-care team – such as a chaplain, pharmacist, physiotherapist, respiratory therapist, social worker, speech-language pathologist or researcher – please ask the bedside nurse to page the person for you.

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Location and contact

Critical Care Medicine

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue, 
D-wing, 1st floor
room D1 08
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4522
Fax: 416-480-4999

For information about patients admitted to Sunnybrook's Intensive Care Units, please contact the unit through the hospital switchboard at 416-480-6100