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Br J Hosp Med (Lond) ; 82(4): 1-6, 2021 Apr 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1207923


In view of the high morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19, early and honest conversations with patients about goals of care are vital. Advance care planning in its traditional manner may be difficult to achieve given the unpredictability of the disease trajectory. Despite this, it is crucial that patients' care wishes are explored as this will help prevent inappropriate admissions to hospital and to critical care, improve symptom control and advocate for patient choice. This article provides practical tips on how to translate decisions around treatment escalation plans into conversations, both face-to-face and over the phone, in a sensitive and compassionate manner. Care planning conversations for patients with COVID-19 should be individualised and actively involve the patient. Focusing on goals of care rather than ceilings of treatment can help to alleviate anxiety around these conversations and will remind patients that their care will never cease. Using a framework such as the 'SPIKES' mnemonic can help to structure this conversation. Verbally conveying empathy will be key, particularly when wearing personal protective equipment or speaking to relatives over the phone. It is also important to make time to recognise your own emotions during and/or after these conversations.

Advance Care Planning/organization & administration , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communication , Terminal Care/organization & administration , Advance Care Planning/standards , Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation/standards , Empathy , Humans , Patient Care Planning , Personal Protective Equipment , SARS-CoV-2 , Telephone , Terminal Care/standards