A lot depends on the patient, the family, the unit...this is too general a topic for me to say unconditionally "YES! "
Not all families can understand critical care. Not all can handle critical situations. Some patients become more agitated with family present. When does family presence unfairly compromise the critical care unit/setting? Disrupt the important work being done under the less than optimal conditions we often work under today?
So..my favorite answer is: direct family involvement (outside of normal visiting) should be at the nurses' discretion, keeping the patient's well being in primary consideration.
Unfortunately, in my area too many families are demanding unlimited access, causing chaos in the unit and placing excess burden on overworked staff. Also am finding too much familiarity breeds a certain amount of contempt....families feel entitled to direct professional nurses and become more a hindrance than a help..their 'assistance' translates to 'demands'. Demands that unfairly take our time from our patient care.
Perhaps this is uniquely an American problem...the 'Burger King mentality' and sense of entitlement. Perhaps this is not so overwhelmingly present in other parts of the US. But it is a definite problem where I am.
Now if only I could convince my ICU director NOT to be so PC...<sigh> She wants open visiting...her staff does not...she doesn't care...we are feeling resentful...not a good situation.