6 Tips to Improve End-of-Life Conversations

On 21st December 2015 NICE issued new guidelines on care of dying adults in the last days of life. One of the 6 areas of recommendations was communication. But how many people working with dying people are confident in having the necessary conversations? Not many, it seems. Here are some key basics:

What can you do to improve end of life communication?
1. Respect privacy – wait until you are in private to talk to the patient and their families


2. Ask open questions – using questions such as ‘how have you been feeling?’ will give them a chance to open up


3. Show empathy – say that you understand and demonstrate it using your body language. A simple nod can help


4. Silence is golden – don’t be afraid of pausing and silences. Rushing ahead and filling ‘awkward’ silences often leads to poor communication


5. Don’t change the subject – if a patient raises concerns, address them head on


6. Use listening as your greatest tool – listening carefully then reflecting back allows you to gain a deeper understanding. You can say ‘it sounds like you are xxxx is that right?’

Find out more about our End O Life Communication training for health professionals here.