Critical Care Nurses: Training in Communication, Pain and Symptom Management, and Caregiver Support

Last Reviewed: March 4, 2019

Training in communication, pain and symptom management, and caregiver support enables critical care nurses to align care with patient and family priorities for care and relieve physical and psychological suffering.

Use this toolkit for skills training and clinical tools to support the care of patients with serious illness and their families.

Download a course catalog with information about continuing education credits for all CAPC courses here.

What’s in the Toolkit

Communicating about what matters most to patients and families (including goals of care, advance care planning, and understanding prognosis), assessing for pain, and partnering with palliative care when needed.

An In-Depth Look At Palliative Care And Its Services

Last Updated: January 15, 2015

Defining palliative care, which patients need it, how it is delivered, and how palliative care differs from hospice.

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Course 1: Comprehensive Pain Assessment

Last Updated: July 1, 2019

Conducting a comprehensive pain assessment to guide safe and effective treatment.

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Advance Care Planning Conversations

Last Updated: November 12, 2015

How to initiate and conduct conversations about advance care planning.

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Clarifying Goals of Care

Last Updated: January 15, 2015

Strategies for eliciting patient goals and preferences to inform treatment decisions.

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Conducting a Family Meeting

Last Updated: January 15, 2015

Communication techniques for an effective family meeting.

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Delivering Serious News

Last Updated: January 15, 2015

Communicating serious clinical news to patients and families.

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Discussing Prognosis

Last Updated: January 15, 2015

How to discuss patient prognosis in a manner that is sensitive, clear, and supportive.

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The Human Connection of Palliative Care: 10 Steps for What to Say and Do

Last Updated: February 3, 2019

Ten important steps for improving communication between clinicians and patients/families. NOTE: This video does not provide CE credits.

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Supporting patients—and their families—as disease progresses.

Heart Failure

Last Updated: August 21, 2017

Interventions to reduce suffering along the disease trajectory for people living with congestive heart failure (CHF) and their families.

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Last Updated: April 21, 2017

Assessing and addressing sources of suffering for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their caregivers.

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Dementia: Relieving Suffering for Patients and Families

Last Updated: January 31, 2017

Identifying and addressing the sources of suffering for patients and families living with dementia.

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Supporting the Family Caregiver: The Burden of Serious Illness

Last Updated: March 10, 2016

Assessing and supporting caregivers of people with serious illness.

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Assessing and managing pain, dyspnea, nausea and vomiting, constipation, anxiety, and depression.

Course 12: Special Populations And Patient-Controlled Analgesia

Last Updated: July 1, 2019

Safe opioid prescribing in older adults, cognitively impaired patients, children, and the imminently dying, including patient-controlled analgesia.

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Symptom Management

Last Updated: March 4, 2019

Training curriculum and clinical tools for assessing and managing five common symptoms in patients living with serious illness.

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Partnering to support the needs of patients with serious illness—and their families—in the ICU.

Integrating Palliative Care Practices in the ICU

Last Updated: March 4, 2019

Integrating palliative care practices in the ICU through training and collaboration.

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