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Napier Conference Centre

24-25 August 2019

The Serious Illness Conversation Guide

Sunday 25th August

11.00am - 12.30pm


The Serious Illness Conversation Guide (SICG) is a communication tool aimed at enabling better quality conversations with seriously ill patients. 

Often, in the context of a busy General Practice, it can be difficult to achieve all the clinical 'tasks' that are required to support a seriously ill patient, and also ensure that we are achieving the enshrined goal of 'patient-centred care'. In other words, it can be tricky to move beyond 'what is the matter' with the patient, to really explore 'what matters' to them - even though we recognise that this is a critical dimension of providing personalised care. It can be hard to know how to start these conversations, how to fit them in to pressured days, how to manage the reactions that we might evoke.

The Serious Illness Conversation Guide is designed to help!

The guide was developed by American non-profit organisation Ariadne Labs with Atul Gawande, following the publication of his book Being Mortal. The guide has been designed by a team of palliative care experts at Ariadne Labs, and offers clinicians language to ask patients about their goals, values and wishes. The aim is for seriously-ill patients to have more, better and earlier conversations that will inform their future care.


In New Zealand the guide is one part of work to improve clinical communication and Advance Care Planning, and the SICG programme is hosted by the Health Quality and Safety Commission. A train-the-trainer model has been adapted to the New Zealand context and training is currently being rolled out around the country.

In this presentation you are invited to see an example of the Conversation, hear about the evidence base behind the Guide and then consider whether this is a tool that might add value to your practice.



Dr Lynn Twigley is a Medical Officer in Palliative Care, and works locally at Cranford Hospice. Since 2012 she has worked as a national facilitator with the Advance Care Planning programme, delivering Communication Skills workshops for multi-disciplinary health care professionals. She is currently one of 6 national trainers supporting the training and implementation of the Serious Illness Conversation Guide (Ariadne Labs) in New Zealand. She is passionate about clinical communication and it's role in improving patient outcomes, and satisfaction for patients and clinicians alike.