End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Posts TaggedNational Healthcare Decisions Day

Easy New Format for Advance Directive

Arrives for National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16th

Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, today announced a new resource to aid all Americans in advance care planning. In time for the fifth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), Compassion & Choices is offering free advance directive forms specific to every state, in an editable PDF format. The new format eases the completion of an advance directive, and Compassion & Choices offers additional tools to facilitate the process.

“We can’t control everything about our death. But if we communicate effectively, we make it more likely that our wishes for the end of life will be known and respected,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices. “Recent studies indicate the single most powerful thing a person can do to improve the chance for gentle dying is — simply and courageously — to talk about it.”

Compassion & Choices offers a Good-to-Go Toolkit and Good-To-Go Resource Guide to help define priorities, understand who to talk with and find ideas on how to get the conversation rolling. These planning tools and editable state-specific advance directive forms can be downloaded at CompassionAndChoices.org/G2G, free of charge.

Over a thousand organizations joined this year to promote NHDD, an initiative to encourage the majority of Americans who have not yet done so to complete advance directives.

For more information please visit www.compassionandchoices.org

Compassion & Choices is a nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. We support, educate and advocate.

Deadline Looming

You’ve avoided it so far. You dread the paperwork but you can’t put it off any longer. The day has arrived: It’s time to talk about death.

The fourth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th. And planning for the end just got a little more fun.To mark NHDD, we’ve put together a tool to help lighten the conversation and initiate new ones: the Healthcare Decisions Game. The Game poses medical decision-making scenarios.It lets you compare your choices with how others guess you would answer.Your score will tell you how well – or not – your family, healthcare proxy or doctor knows what you would want if you could not speak for yourself. And who knows? You may find out the person designated to make decisions for you really isn’t the right person after all. Or if your doctor indicates she could not follow your wishes, maybe it’s time to find a doctor who could.

Think about the people you love. That’s what this is about. Will you act tomorrow to spare your loved ones the agony of guessing what you would want and fearing they might guess wrong? Someday they may have to tell a doctor what you would want as the end of life approaches. Make sure they know.

NHDD is a wonderful opportunity – and the Game a great tool – to encourage friends and loved ones of any age, in any state of health, to communicate what they would want.

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 16th, have a little fun talking about death. Look at it this way: it’s not taxes.

Health Care Decisions Day – Make it Matter

Saturday, April 16th is the fourth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). The NHDD coalition aims to inspire, educate, and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Americans of every age should converse with their doctors and families. Do this with love for those who may have to act on your behalf. Talk with them, appoint a representative, and document your wishes in case you become unable to make or communicate healthcare decisions.

But you’re not done yet. NHDD intends “to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding health care, and providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.” Don’t just create an advance directive.  Make these documents more than just “wishes.” Advance directives could remain a hollow exercise unless they actually govern care.

Patients and their surrogates feel violated when a healthcare institution ignores written directives. Dying patients should not have to bear insertion of unwanted tubes to measure pressures, augment breathing, siphon throats, empty urine, drain fluids or administer nutrition.

A few years ago, Compassion & Choices stepped in after providers at a California hospital administered full cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to 82-year old Margaret Furlong in violation of her advance directive. Margaret endured ten days of intensive care despite squeezing her son’s hand to ask that her hands be untied and machines discontinued. It infuriates me to consider that Medicare paid the hospital for the cruelty it inflicted on Margaret. This torture and abuse of patients occurs too frequently in America.

This year, you can help Compassion & Choices put patients at the center of care. We aim to correct the system’s perverse incentives to ignore patient instructions and deliver unwanted treatments. Federal agencies that pay for medical services   could put teeth into advance directives, and Compassion & Choices will ask them to help.

April 16th is a day to communicate your choices and make them stick. Find advance directives and easy-to-use tools for   advance planning at the Compassion & Choices Good to Go resource page: http://www.compassionandchoices.org/g2g.

Demand respect by joining our action network: compassionandchoices.org/alerts. There you can participate in effective tactics to persuade policy makers that your advance wishes matter.

Talk the talk. Then walk the walk.