Breaking distressing news face-to-face to patients and their families is a difficult and emotionally draining duty. As you know, this is an even greater challenge due to the current situation posed by remote working.

This course has been specifically designed to help support healthcare and palliative care professionals communicate sad news remotely, whilst maintaining your already compassionate and sensitive approach.

Run this training course for your teams to gain practical techniques to help overcome the challenges of delivering sad news virtually; gain advice to create virtual space, which provides comfort and relief to you, the patient and their families; learn how to remotely read body language and emotions, and confidently communicate sensitive information.

Learning Outcomes

  • Overcome the obstacles to breaking sad news virtually
  • Create a comforting virtual setting for you and your patients
  • Learn how to remotely read peoples body language and emotions
  • Communicating sensitive information online
  • Virtually communicate succinctly and with compassion
All the Understanding ModernGov courses are Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certified, with signed certificates available upon request for event.

Enquire About In-House Training

To speak to someone about a bespoke training programme, please contact us:
0800 542 9414
[email protected]


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09:15 - 09:45


09:45 - 10:00

Trainer’s Welcome and Clarification of Learning Objectives

10:00 - 10:30

Understand the Challenges to Delivering Sad News Virtually

  • Gain a quick insight into some of the challenges that staff have: the impersonal touch of virtual mediums, technology issues, patient familiarity with Zoom, MS Teams and other platforms
  • Issues around reading emotions and body language
  • Learn from the trainer and other delegates common issues
10:30 - 10:45


10:45 - 11:30

Creating a Comforting and Reassuring Virtual Space

In this session, delegates will gain practical tips and techniques to create a comforting virtual setting for both yourself and the patient and their relatives.

  • Gain tips and tools to create a warm virtual setting when you are talking to a patient and their families:
    • Mindful of the virtual background you are using
    • Determine the best online communication tool to use: Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, and Phone
    • Remove distractions in your own home
    • Work with the patient and their relatives beforehand to ensure comfort on both sides
    • Clearly and sensitively establish “ground rules” when hosting the virtual meeting: stages of being muted or unmuted, video on or off, appreciate that there is a delay when conducting virtual meetings, ensure you and the family are visible on the screen
11:30 - 12:30

Reading Patient Emotions and Body Language Online

  • Learn how to use read patient emotions and body language over an online platform
  • Gain tools and tips to help you virtually convey the information in a compassionate and sensitive way
  • Practice reading participants emotions and body language on Zoom
  • Observe and validate the patient’s emotions and give them enough time and space to express their reactions.
12:30 - 13:30


13:30 - 14:15

Virtually Communicating Sensitive Information

  • Fully understand the virtual tools and techniques to display information: sharing the screen, using videos
  • In groups, practice virtually communicating with compassion and impact
  • Gain feedback from a trainer on your communication over a virtual platform
  • Deploy tools to convey sensitive information when English isn’t the first language
14:15 - 14:45

The Power of Compassionate Speech

  • Be more compassionate by using rhetoric
  • Understand what rhetoric to use
14:45 - 15:00


15:00 - 16:00

Action Planning

  • Effectively use the skills that you have learnt throughout the day to virtually deliver sad news to patients
  • Successfully deal with

Practical scenarios:

(1) Virtually handling a very distressed patient and family member

(2) Remotely providing support to the best of your ability

(3) Dealing with bad-tempered people