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End-of-Life Hospice Conversation Examples

Discussing end-of-life matters with people can be tough. It takes a lot of strength and courage to talk about complex topics. However, having open conversations can help individuals prepare for the end of life, which is why it is important to have examples of end-of-life conversations on hand.

Various examples of end-of-life conversations can provide comfort during this difficult time. At Compassus, we understand how challenging this time is, and we are here to answer questions and concerns from both caregivers and healthcare professionals regarding addressing end-of-life hospice conversations. Reach out to us today at 833.380.9583 for help on examples of getting started or navigating end-of-life conversations.

patient and nurse clasp hands while discussing examples of end of life conversations

Examples of End-of-Life Conversations

Explore these conversation starters from Kelley Newcomer, M.D., assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Identify Other Decision-Makers

  • “Is anyone you rely on to help you make important decisions?”
  • “Who in the family should be with us when we discuss the results?”

Assess Understanding of Prognosis

  • “What have your other doctors told you about your condition?”
  • “Have they talked to you about what this latest problem might mean for you?”
  • “From what you know, do you think that your cancer will get better, worse, or stay the same over the next month?”

Define the Patient’s Goals for Care

  • “What do you hope for most in the next few months?”

Reframe Goals

  • “I wish we could guarantee that we could keep you alive until your daughter’s graduation, but unfortunately, we can’t. Perhaps we can work together on a letter for her to read that day, so she will know you are there in spirit if you cannot be there.”

Identify Needs for Care

  • “It can be difficult to care for a family member at home, and no one can do it alone.”
  • “Have you thought about what kinds of help you might need?”
  • “Would it help if we could find a way to deliver your medications to you?”
  • “Would it reassure you that we could send a nurse to your home to check on you?”

Summarize and Link Goals with Care Needs

  • “So I understand your main goal is to stay home and spend time with your family. To do that, we will need to help you in several ways, for instance, by sending a nurse out to your home and giving you some help around the house. Is that right?”

Language to Introduce Hospice

  • “One of the best ways to give you the help you need to stay at home with your family is a program called hospice. Have you heard of hospice?”
  • “Hospice can provide more services and support at home than most other care programs.”
  • “The hospice team has a lot of experience caring for seriously ill patients at home.”

Responding to Emotions and Providing Closure

Acknowledge Response

  • “You seem surprised to learn how sick you are.” “I can see it’s not easy for you to talk about hospice.”

Legitimize Reaction

  • “Many people are understandably upset when they learn how ill their loved one is and that hospice is a possibility.”

Explaining Hospice Goals

  • “Hospice doesn’t help people die sooner. Hospice helps people die naturally, in their own time.”
  • “Hospice helps people live as well as they can for as long as possible.”


  • “Hospice’s goal is to improve your quality of life as much as possible for whatever time you have left.”
  • “Hospice can help you and your family make the most of the time you have left.”

Reinforce Commitment to Care

  • “Let’s think this over for a day or two. You know I will continue caring for you whatever your decision.”

When Recommending Hospice

  • “I think hospice would be your best choice, but of course, the final decision is yours.”
  • “Hospice could be very helpful to you in the ways we’ve talked about, but I realize it’s a big decision. I’d like to arrange for a hospice nurse to visit you so you can decide for yourself whether hospice is right for you.”

Get Support Navigating Difficult Conversations from Compassus

At Compassus, we understand that navigating examples of end-of-life conversations is difficult. We are here to help you in any way that we can. Contact us today at Compassus for support on examples of end-of-life hospice conversations. We want to help individuals and families start and navigate meaningful end-of-life conversations. Reach out today at 833.380.9583 for the support your family needs during this tough time.