Starting a conversation with your patients about their wishes and goals of care may not be easy, but it’s an important process to go through. As a health care provider, you need to know what the answers are to some critical questions, such as:

  • If something happened to your health and you became unable to speak, who would make decisions on your behalf? (Substitute Decision-Maker)
  • If time were limited, what would be most important for you?
  • Where would you prefer to spend your last days? At home, in a long-term care facility, hospital or hospice?

Goals of Care conversations focus on making sure you understand the nature of your illness, and help healthcare providers (e.g., nurse, doctor, or social worker) understand the goals you have for your care. They help prepare you to make treatment decisions, and provide informed consent.

Helping your patients start advance care planning and initiating the conversation will get them thinking about what their values and wishes. Having these communicated and in place will greatly contribute to their quality of life and of their loved ones if they were mentally incapable of making decisions. It’s important that they participate in this conversation and share their wishes now, while they are able to do so.