Submitted by Cari Borenko Hoffmann, Lead, Advance Care Planning

Often, people arrive in our care with a serious illness without a plan in place for their future health care wishes. Learn how to have a successful discussion about serious illness care.

Talking with people about their goals and wishes and plans for the future is an important part of the care we provide for everyone. 

Often though, people arrive in our care with a serious illness and without a plan in place for their future health care wishes.

The ideal time to introduce a discussion of values and goals with your patient who has a serious illness is when they are relatively stable and not in a medical or emotional crisis.

People who think through what is important to them and what their wishes are, often feel less anxious, more at peace and more in control of their situation. Knowing and sharing what they want helps ensure the people who support them know what decisions to make.


Cari Borenko Hoffmann, Lead, Advance Care Planning

It is important to ask people “questions about their hopes and fears, rather than pressing them to make hard decisions,” says Dr. Atul Gawande, surgeon and author of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. 

The Serious Illness Conversation Guide is available as a conversation tool for clinicians to engage in conversations with patients, residents and clients. The guide has been developed using patient-tested language.

What’s most important to keep in mind when speaking with a person with a serious illness is that the purpose is not to get a medical order, but to assess their understanding of their illness and prognosis; learn about what they fear and what is most important to them; and ask if their family/friends have been involved in advance care planning conversations.

Learn how to talk to patients with a serious illness.

Learn more about advance care planning, serious illness and goals of care conversations, and related resources: call 1-877-825-5034 or email advancecareplanning@fraserhealth.ca.


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