Chapter 2: Strategies to assess and engage with families

Establishing a good foundation

 “It was the relationships with the people and the care they provided that was the most important”. Family member

Greet the family 

Conversation Prompts

“We are here to work with you, and we’ll do the best we can to support you and your family while you are with us. What initial questions do you have”?

Connect with families

My goal is to try to make sure the family doesn’t feel like an outsider, but instead to give them a coherent and realistic story they are a part of, can understand, and can contribute to”. ICU Nurse

If you and your team can forge a strong relationship with a family prior to a patient’s death, this can lessen the risk of traumatic grief.

Establishing a positive relationship with families is very much an intuitive process, although you can learn from experience and through observing others. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Listen intently and give families your full attention.
  • Remain flexible and open to discussing relevant topics with the family.
  • Maintain a respectful attitude.
  • Be heartfelt, friendly, and affirming.
  • Be predictable, honest, and trustworthy.
  • Allow for moments of silence where families can take time to think, express emotion, etc.

Clinician Tip