Family Conflict

Family Conflict

What we know

Providing end-of-life care can lead to significant burden and strain. It can also affect the relationship between the carer and care recipient and the wider family. Family conflict can have negative effects on the person's health and wellbeing. Ways of easily measuring and identifying family conflict have not yet been identified.

What can I do?

Ask the person who they consider as family. They may be more comfortable with their family of choice rather than their family of origin (biological family).

Ask the person who they would like to include in family meetings or make them aware of when information is discussed relating to their care or end-of-life planning.

Arrange a family meeting to assess who will be involved in the caregiving role and any risk of conflict and distress this may create. The palliAGED forms can assist with the preparation and recording of the family meeting (case conference) including communication with the GP, the family and between team members.

Use the information on Families on the Reachout website.

Make sure you have people to debrief with either formally or informally as an activity of self-care after managing an episode of conflict. You can find out more on the Self-Care pages.

Visit CarerHelp to download resources for carers.

What can I learn?

Check out the ELDAC resources: Managing Disputes About Medical Treatment Decision-Making


Use Dealing with conflicts (108kb pdf) to help guide discussion in family meetings to determine the risk of conflict and the opportunity to address issues early.

Check out the End-of-Life Essentials learning module: Responding to Concerns (registration is open to everyone and free of charge)

What can my organisation do?

Direct the person to information and legal representation on ‘Enduring power of attorney’ in the event a proxy decision maker will be required.

Scheduling time for meetings with the family regarding end of life care planning - written guidance may reduce conflict or burden in decision making for family members (Advance Care Planning).

Having a list of support groups or interventions run by the health service or local groups may be useful in re-directing families suffering from distress and conflict.

Offer professional development activities around conflict management. In scenarios where the conflict is becoming distressing, should consider using a mediator or professional service to counsel the family and assist in positive communication strategies.

Offer staff mentoring or facilitate time to debrief with team members to promote staff self-care. The palliAGED Self-Care Plan (161kb pdf) can help.

Page updated 07 July 2021