Person and Worker’s understanding of the person’s health condition and status

When working within a palliative approach to care – or a harm reduction approach – it is important to have an understanding of the person’s health and social needs. It is also important to know how much a person actually understands about their own health situation. Both of these will help in recognizing the person’s experience, and in providing guidance and information about what additional supports could be available.

Learning about a person’s health situation can be challenging and sometimes requires creative thinking to find strategies for effective communication. Having conversations about a person’s health status requires a trusting relationship and, ideally, open and free conversations.

Tips To Help Understand a Person’s Health Status and Needs

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Practice reflective listening
  • Clarify what you have heard and get more details
  • Summarize what you have understood
  • Use a few minimal prompts

Consider asking questions like these:

  • How would you describe how you are feeling?
  • What are your thoughts about where things are going with your illness?
  • How are you feeling about your treatment options?
  • What are the main problems this health condition has brought you?
  • How it is impacting your daily routine?
  • How have your energy levels been?
  • How have you treated this health condition in the past?
  • Do you have any reservations about your treatment options?
  • How do you feel about taking pain medication?
  • How are your pain levels?
  • Can you tell me more about why you don’t want further treatment?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to bring up at your next visit?