Is this your first time?

Dawne Garrett is Professional Lead for Older People and Dementia at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Eleanor Sherwen is Professional Lead for Palliative and End of Life Care, and also works at the RCN. They will be delivering a workshop at Living and Dying Well with Frailty Meeting on 6 March in London. Please note this meeting has now sold out and there will be no on site registration. To join the waiting list please email

Approaching end of life care discussions with the patient for the first time…

Dawne and I have been asked to deliver a 60 minute workshop on this key and sometimes challenging area of practice. The importance of choice and the delivery of holistic person centred care is repeatedly highlighted in the literature, both from researchers and policy makers.  Yet how can we even begin to deliver person centred care when there is at times a reluctance to open up and initiate these essential conversations? Let alone when communicating with someone who has limited sight, poor hearing and cognitive impairment. The evidence says that professionals can feel more comfortable approaching conversations in relation to sex, rather than having conversions with patients and those that are important to them focused on death and dying. 

Lack of high quality communication can create a wealth of challenges including sadness and missed opportunities for the patient. How else can they ensure that their wishes and preferences are heard, that they have had the opportunity to put plans into place and to do some of things that they have always wanted to do and never had time or the impetus? For professionals, these are essential conversations to ensure the planning of care is centred on what it is the person would truly want (not what we think that they would want!). It enables us to be proactive and supports communication within the MDT.

We appreciate that 60 minutes is a short time frame in which to discuss communication and all the skills that underpin the ethos of what good communication looks like and how to approach/initiate those conversations. We could spend at least two days exploring this important issue and the challenges that it can bring.  However, we will aim to furnish you with some of the facts regarding the general population in terms of who has thought about their end of life care and had discussions with their loved ones and those important to them in a safe and supportive environment. We will explore briefly why these conversations are important and then spend time exploring individual case scenarios as to when these conversations have worked well, when they haven’t worked quite so well.

At the meeting on the 6 March at the BGS we will explore with you how you can begin to initiate these vital conversations. This will create an opportunity to share experiences and facilitate what we hope we will be a lively and informative discussion. Look forward to seeing you there.

This meeting has now sold out and there will be no on site registration. To join the waiting list please email

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