Serious Illness Conversations Tools

Several national groups have developed free tools to help clinicians have conversations with patients.

  1. Vital Talk
  2. CAPC
  3. Ariadne Labs
  4. The Conversation Project
  5. Go Wish Cards

1. VitalTalk

Communication is the cornerstone that builds and reinforces the relationship between provider and patient. This is a skill set that requires development and practice to be successful. The VitalTalk curriculum offers evidence-based training that “makes communication skills for serious illnesses learnable” with a goal to “empower clinicians and institutions” to have better conversations leading to better care for their patients and families. VitalTalk website

The Hawaii VitalTalk Consortium is pleased to share two Hawaii-produced videos demonstrating communication tools that are included in the VitalTalk curriculum. We hope these videos help to improve your future conversations.

  • GUIDE Handout – A one-page talking map to “guide” discussions, helpful when breaking bad news
  • NURSE Handout – A one-page talking map useful when responding to emotions

For additional and free communication resources, please visit the VitalTalk website.  “Quick Guides” and related videos are available in their resources section. 

VitalTalk’s additional resources are organized into topics (or “tools”) that clinicians need. Within each tool listed on the website are a series of related videos and access to “Quick Guides” to provide real-time support and reminders.

For more comprehensive training, they offer online and in-person courses.

2. Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)

CAPC – Communication Skills for conversations about serious illness provides training and tools to help health professionals navigate difficult conversations with patients living with a serious illness.  Topics include Delivering Serious News, Clarifying Goals of Care and Conducting a Family Meeting. 

3. Ariadne Labs

The Serious Illness Care Program redesigns care so that knowing and honoring patients’ priorities becomes the norm, not the exception and is a system-level care delivery model created by a team of palliative care experts at Ariadne Labs.

The Serious Illness Conversation Guide serves as a framework for physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, allied health professionals, and other clinicians to explore topics that are crucial to gaining a full understanding about and honoring what is most important to patients. Plus additional tools for Clinicians, patients and health systems.

  • The COVID-19 discussion guides focus on inpatient, outpatient and patient resources.

Clinicians can also join their free online community of practice.

4. The Conversation Project

We always talk about the fact that having ‘The Conversation‘ is an important, but often a difficult and emotionally challenging task. The Conversation Project isn’t about filling out Advance Directives or other medical forms. It’s about talking to your loved ones about what you or they want for end-of-life care.

The Conversation Project has Your Guide for Talking with a Health Care Team and Your Guide to Choosing a health care agent. 

Explore their virtual kitchen table, with videos or step-by-step PDF guides on our dedicated The Conversation Project webpage.

5. Go Wish Cards

The Coda Alliance created and tested a sorting card game to help you easily start a comfortable conversation and choose your own way – in life, and at the end-of-life. These cards can be ordered in the mail or played online.

We provide additional tool on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage

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