What a powerful collective experience we have all been through these last few years. This global pandemic has made many of us pause and think about who and what is important to us. For many this experience has also brought us face to face, perhaps for the first time, with our vulnerability as humans and our potential for illness and death.
Given this heightened awareness of life’s fragility, there has been an outpouring of articles across the country about advance care planning and getting our affairs in order. Increasingly, the articles are emphasizing the importance of choosing a surrogate medical decision maker and the wisdom of exploring values-based advance directives.
Values Based Documents
Values-based documents help us communicate our values, preferences, and personal beliefs about medical care, versus traditional directives, which focus mostly on yes/no decisions about specific treatments. Values-based directives help our families, friends, and care teams best advocate for us within the ever-changing medical scenarios and treatment options.
High Quality Conversations
PeaceHealth continues to partner with our Washington statewide organization, Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, to bring values-based, high-quality conversation to our communities. These conversations are conducted with hundreds of patients in our primary care and specialty clinics, with our home and hospital-based teams, and with external community partners to help support people in medical advance care planning.
Resources for Advance Healthcare Planning
National Health Care Decisions Day 2022, observed April 16, serves to remind and educate us about the importance of advance care planning. Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest is an invaluable resource for advance care planning resources — both for medical teams and for the patients we serve throughout Washington – including these instrumental tools (for more information, visit honoringchoicespnw.org):
- Serious illness conversation guidance (and training guide for medical teams to help strengthen skills in goals of care conversations and patient-centered care)
- WA state Advanced Directive (now translated into 14 different languages)
- WA Portable Order for Life Sustaining Treatment, or POLST (now translated into 14 different languages)
PeaceHealth's Advance Healthcare Planning
Additionally, PeaceHealth’s advance care planning department, funded in part by PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation, offers convenient resources in our local communities, including on-line classes (recorded on-demand classes and monthly live webinars). Soon, we will expand our program by placing trained advance care planning facilitators in our primary care clinics to assist patients, as needed. This will increase our capacity to meet with patients and families and help them navigate their way through these rich and sometimes challenging conversations and documents.
Helpful Tips to Get Started with Planning
Here’s some helpful tips to get started with getting your plans in order – in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day or anytime:
- Join one of PeaceHealth’s on-line classes. They are FREE and open to all community members. To register or learn more about our classes, visit peacehealth.org/advance-care-planning-live-webinar-classes.
- Talk with your primary care provider about advance care planning and learn what resources/support may be available in that clinic.
- Be sure to get your most recent documents on file in your medical record at the hospital closest to your home address so they are easily accessible when needed.
- Keep having the conversation about who and what is important to you and review and update your documents on a regular basis.
We are all in this together!