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Helping People Talk about Their Wishes for Care Through the End of Life

How to talk about what matters to you and have a say in your health care

The Conversation Project, co-founded by Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Goodman in 2012, is a public engagement initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement with a goal that is both simple and transformative: to help everyone talk about their wishes for care through the end of life, so those wishes can be understood and respected.

We can’t plan for everything. But we can talk about what is most important — in our life, and in our health care — with those who matter most. Talking with the important people in our life can bring us closer together. The Conversation Project offers people free tools, guidance, and resources they need to help start these conversations.

The Conversation Project does not promote any preference for the type of care someone may want; instead, it seeks to encourage and support people in expressing what matters most to them in their health care — today and tomorrow.

By sparking cultural change at the kitchen table — not in the intensive care unit — The Conversation Project hopes it will become easier for people to communicate wishes for care that can be expressed in advance and respected when the need arises.


Have You Had the Conversation?

Learn more at The Conversation Project website:


Resources available (in multiple languages) include:

  • Conversation Starter Guide
  • Guide to Choosing a Health Care Proxy
  • Guide to Being a Health Care Proxy
  • Guide for Talking with a Health Care Team
  • Conversation Starter Guide for Caregivers of People with Alzheimer’s or Other Forms of Dementia
  • Conversation Starter Guide for Caregivers of a Child with Serious Illness
  • What Matters to Me Workbook
  • Videos, free resources, and ways to get involved in your community