Physician/Family support for difficult conversations

At multiple points during their career, physicians will need to impart difficult information to their patients and families. These are unprecedented and demanding times, and given the current uncertain and ever shifting climate, this task is potentially even more complex. During this pandemic there is no road map and physicians and directors of care may be required to have difficult conversations they never expected:

  • Triaging: When you’re deciding where a patient should go
  • Admitting: When your patient needs to be in hospital or the ICU
  • Deciding: When things aren’t going well, goals of care, code status
  • Resourcing: When limitations force you to choose and even ration

In response, Vancouver Coastal Health is introducing a telephone support line and dedicated email for physicians or MRPs (most responsible physicians) in acute or community care. This service is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting Thursday, March 26. Trained psychologists are available to help navigate a challenging conversation, to problem solve realistic approaches and to offer support.

In order to continue the work required now, your self-care is essential. You are encouraged to also reach out proactively when you need support or guidance around having difficult conversations that may occur as a result of COVID-19 related care decisions.

VCH, our patients and residents need you, your skills, your expertise and your compassion.

The telephone support line is: 604-875-4987 and will be active on March 26. Email MDMRPsupport@vch.ca with any questions, and read more about these supports.


Resources: Supporting patients and families during COVID-19

View the PDF resource for supporting patients and families during the COVID-19 visitation restrictions

  1. Guide for Difficult Conversation with Patients who are NOT COVID-19 Positive but are at High Risk of Harm
  2. Guide for Difficult Conversation with Patients who ARE POSITIVE for COVID-19 and at High-Risk of Harm.
  3. Guide for Difficult Conversation with Patients and Families when DECLINING VISITATION Acute Care, Long Term Care/Assisted Living/Home Support, Community