Approaching family meetings

Family Meetings are often more daunting than seeing a patient alone, but are an essential feature of good holistic care.

Vital Talk's family conference video outlines a clinician's guide to approaching family meetings when patients who have a serious illness are not able to participate.

There are 7 steps:

  1. Pre-meet: Make sure your team have met together first, shared what you know about the   family and have agreed key points
  2. Introduce: Hold the conference in a place that affords privacy, give introductions and explain the purpose of the meeting
  3. Assess: Assess the families perspective so that you can build a shared understanding
  4. Update: Give information in parts rather than one long lecture. Use language they can understand. Pause to allow questions. Finish with the big picture.
  5. Empathise: Acknowledging an emotion often allows people to feel understood.
  6. Prioritise: Try to elicit the patients values. ''Could you tell me about him as a person? What is important to him? What would he want now?'' Asking a family to put themselves in the patient's shoes if often easier for them than asking them to make a difficult decision.
  7. Align: Align the medical care plan with the patient's values and the reality of the medical situation. You can offer to make a recommendation based on the medical situation and the patients values.

The 4 minute video includes futher examples of how to broach these meetings with families and how reflect on whether a meeting has gone well.

Apps to consider

The VitalTalk Tips App is an invaluable app that will build your 'communication superpowers'!


Vital Talk - Conduct a family conference

Published 20th December 2020


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