Supporting bedside conversations

Apr 12, 2018 | News

Monday, April 16 is Advance Care Planning Day in Canada. At Providence, talking with our patients about how they want to be treated is something we do – and are committed to – every day.

Last November, we shared that Providence has an updated policy endorsing Advance Care Planning / Serious Illness Conversations. This policy helps ensure that our staff and medical staff understand the importance of these conversations to this organization and describes roles and responsibilities in engaging in these conversations – particularly with patients facing life-limiting disease and/or living with serious illness.

Serious illness conversations with patients – or with their substitute decision maker if the patient is not able to communicate – are a team responsibility, and all direct care staff have a part to play. Our desire as an organization is to see these conversations happen "more, better, and earlier", and upcoming in-services are intended to provide nurses and other direct care staff with empowering knowledge and tools to support their roles as described in the policy.

Serious Illness Conversation In-Services

These in-services will be starting in May with direct-care Medicine staff at St. Paul’s:

  • They will be 20-minutes in length, and facilitated by Ashley Payne, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Response Lead.
  • The purpose is to provide direct-care staff with the confidence to initiate, participate, or respond to care conversations using the Serious Illness Conversations framework:
  • Have a better understanding of each staff member’s role and responsibility in supporting Serious Illness Conversations
  • Learn how to incorporate these conversations into regular clinical practice
  • Understand the importance of sharing the knowledge gained through these conversations in order to provide the care patients and their families want
  • This work complements the more in-depth three-hour workshops coordinated and led by Wallace Robinson, Leader for Advance Care Planning, on how to conduct the sometimes difficult serious illness conversation.
  • To register in one of these in-services, please contact Wallace or Ashley, using the contact information below.

All of this work stems from emerging best practice knowledge about the importance of and engaging in serious illness conversations, particularly from Ariadne Labs (founded by Dr. Atul Gawande) at Harvard, and the work of the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication at the Cleveland Clinic).

This education is being done with funding support from a donation to VCH from Robert and Greta Ho to support incorporation of a palliative approach to care to patients who may benefit.

Looking for more information?

  • Tools & Resources: All Advance Care Planning and Serious Illness Conversations tools and resources can be found here. These documents are also posted on PHC's Medical Affairs site. Many additional helpful resources for this conversation can be found on the Ariadne Labs website.
  • Advance Care Planning brochure: Read and/or print-off a copy of this brochure (attached below). You can also order additional copies through your program social worker or Patient Health Education Materials (PHEM) at
  • Serious Illness Conversations Guide: The most recent version of PHC’s Serious Illness Guide is attached below for reading or printing off.

Questions or concerns?

Wallace Robinson, MSW
Leader, Advance Care Planning
Tel: 604-806-8476


Ashley Payne, MSW RSW
Medical Assistance in Dying Response Lead
Facilitator, Serious Illness Conversations

Quality & Safety

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