What the palliative care experts says
Dr. Peter Hudson explains families' information needs and how to demystify death. (3:22)Video transcript

Traditional paramedic training doesn’t teach you how to talk to a person. It’s either part of who you are, or you learn on the job, or you go through your whole career with the fear of saying the wrong thing. - Canadian paramedic

Families who have more difficulty coping in bereavement tend to have one experience in common: a breakdown in communication between themselves and the treating team. Failure to find a way to be on the same page can result in distorted understandings that can haunt a family for years. 

This is not an exercise in perfection. Saying the "wrong thing" can usually be rectified with further conversation, during which you can clarify or apologize as needed. Effective communication with patients and families promotes outcomes that while painful will not be further complicated by misunderstandings. 

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, participants will be able to:

  1. Summarize the anticipated changes in patient presentation in the last 1 – 3 months of life, last 1 – 2 weeks of life and hours before death.
  2. Describe ways to explain clinical findings in the setting of palliative and end of life care to families, and approaches to normalize the dying process.
  3. Identify strategies to answer difficult, but anticipated, questions from families in the setting of palliative and end of life care.
  4. List activities that family members can do to support the patient.