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Communication in the last days or hours of life 

Communication in the last days or hours of life

Chapter:
Communication in the last days or hours of life
Author(s):

Anita Roberts

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198736134.003.0030
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date: 23 April 2017

This chapter discusses effective communication in the last days or hours of life. It describes communication including verbal, non-verbal, and paralinguistic elements together with how to structure complex conversations. It recognizes the importance of communication when a person is expected to die within the coming days or hours. Sensitive communication is essential when dealing with uncertainty inherent at this time and strategies are identified to enable clinicians to elicit the needs and concerns of patients and families. The chapter also examines how the priorities for the care of the dying person can be ascertained. Strategies for giving information and discussing care in a sensitive and supportive manner are described, including how to assess informational needs, effective ways to break bad news, and ways of responding to difficult questions. Finally, the importance of having a competent workforce is recognized and some communication skills training opportunities for healthcare staff are discussed.

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