Communication is the essence of the nurse-patient relationship. The critical care nurse’s role in facilitating patient communication and enabling communication between patients and their families has never been more important or poignant than during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have witnessed tremendous examples of resourceful, caring nurses serving as the primary communication partner and support for isolated seriously ill patients during this pandemic. However, evidence-based tools and techniques for assisting awake, communication-impaired, seriously ill patients to communicate are not yet systematically applied across all settings. Missed communication or misinterpretation of patients’ messages induces panic and fear in patients receiving mechanical ventilation and can have serious deleterious consequences. This lecture presents a 23-year program of research in developing and testing combination interventions (eg, training, tailored assessment, and tools) for best practice in facilitating patient communication during critical illness. Evidence from related nursing and inter pro fessional research is also included. Guidance for unit-based assessment, tailoring, and implementation of evidence-based patient communication protocols also is provided.

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