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Starting the Hospice Conversation

Starting the Hospice Care Conversation & How the HCP Hospice Team Can Assist You

Once you have initiated a hospice conversation, the HealthCare Partners Hospice team is available to answer questions and offer guidance for your patients and their caregivers. Our trained Hospice Team can provide guidance, emotional support, education, and coordination of benefits for your patients. We are here to offer new perspectives, hope, and help to terminally ill members and their families.

Here are some tips to getting the conversation started:


Establish an appropriate setting for the discussion, ensuring comfort and privacy for the patient and family members.

  • “I’d like to talk with you about our overall goals for your care.”
  • “I’d like to talk to you about something I discuss with my patients who are in a similar situation.”


Engage the patient to talk about how he/she sees the current health situation.

  • “What do you understand about your current health condition?”
  • “What do you understand from what the doctors have told you?”


Ask the patient to consider the future. Listen to his/her expectations and take the opportunity to clarify what is likely or unlikely to happen.

  • “What do you see for yourself in the future?”
  • “Have you ever thought about how you want things to be if you become sicker?”


Establishing goals, and introducing hospice as a way of achieving them, puts hospice care in the spectrum of other medical therapies and programs. Having goals expresses hope. Use your insight to structure the conversation.

  • Check for reactions
  • Ask questions
  • Clarify misunderstandings


Respond to emotions: patients and families may experience profound emotions when discussing hospice and considering end of life. Respond sympathetically and keep the conversation going.

  • “I can see this makes you sad.”
  • “Tell me more about how you are feeling.”
  • “You seem angry.”


Establish & implement a plan that is well articulated and understood. The HealthCare Partners Palliative/Hospice team can provide more details to patients and families and make referrals as directed.

  • “Do you feel comfortable with the plan we are putting in place?”
  • Make sure the key family members are satisfied with the treatment plan

If you would like more information and assistance, please contact the HealthCare Partners Hospice Team at

Download the Starting the Conversation PDF