Serious Illness Conversations

Serious Illness Conversations

More, Earlier, Better

The BC Centre for Palliative Care promotes a person-centred approach to care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient and family preferences, needs, and values.

While a serious illness affects the person, it also affects everyone close to them.
If you become ill or frail, your life changes – sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. You may experience increased tiredness, pain, nausea, or shortness of breath, and may be less able to do things for yourself. How you think and feel changes as you cope with these ups and downs in your health. Knowing what you want will ease the burden on your family of making hard decisions for you if you can’t speak for yourself.

Talking with your health-care provider about wishes for future care
The BCCPC supports health-care professionals to have serious illness conversations with their patients to talk about a person’s illness, their goals and wishes, and planning for the future when their illness is serious but stable. Patients who think through what is important to them and what their wishes are often feel less anxious, more at peace, and more in control of their situation.

How to prepare for a Serious Illness Conversation (SIC) with your health-care provider
Think about these things:

  • What would you like to know about your illness?
  • What kind of information would help you make decisions about your future?
  • What is most important for you to have a good quality of life?
  • What are you afraid of about your illness?
  • What kinds of medical care do you not want?
  • What do you think it would be like to share these thoughts with your family?
  • If you haven’t already identified a Substitute Decision Maker, who would be able to fill that role?
  • See our Preparing for the Serious Illness Conversation Brochure.

Please bring to your visit:

  • If you have a Representation Agreement or a Temporary Substitute Decision Maker list that is not on file at the hospital or with your doctor, please bring a copy.
  • If you have an Advance Directive, please bring a copy.

The Centre’s Serious Illness Conversation (SIC) Initiative aims to promote person-centred care by:

  • Promoting the use of the Serious Illness Conversation Guide and Program developed by Ariadne Labs, Harvard Medical School throughout health authorities in BC.
  • Educating health-care professionals on how to use the SIC guide in their practice.
  • Working with health authorities to integrate the use of SIC into clinical practice for patients with a life limiting serious illness.
  • Developing SIC tools and resources (in collaboration with Ariadne Labs, Harvard Medical School)

Please see our poster, presented at BC Quality Forum 2018, for a quick overview of the Initiative.


Serious Illness Conversation Links for Health-Care Professionals