The theme for 2016 is “It Always Seems Too Early, Until It’s Too Late.”
Each year the Advance Care Planning Initiative (ACP) along with other participating organizations and individuals across all 50 United States come together every April 16th for National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), a day set aside for collectively educating the public on the importance of making healthcare decisions in advance of an illness or injury, to empower people to create their own personal care plans.
Throughout the entire month of April, The Advance Care Planning Initiative of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition will be providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers and execute written advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living will) in accordance with Washington state laws.
“As a result of National Healthcare Decisions Day, many more people in our community can be expected to have thoughtful conversations about their healthcare decisions and complete reliable advance care plans to make their wishes known,” said Paula Beatty, Strategic Program Manager for the Advance Care Planning Initiative.
ACP sponsors free, 2-hour community classes for Snohomish County residents that guide discussions on what living well means when faced with a serious illness or injury. Classes provide an introduction to advance care planning options, including informational handouts and conversation starters for family, physicians or legal professionals on how to select a healthcare advocate; choosing preferred care and treatment options; and completing legal planning documents.
“Fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from their loved ones, and healthcare providers and facilities will be better equipped to address advance healthcare planning issues before a crisis and be better able to honor personal wishes when the time comes to do so,” explains Beatty.
There are several ways for Snohomish County residents to get involved with advance care planning this April:
- Register for an advance care planning class. Here is a list of currently scheduled ACP classes for April*:
- Tues 4/5 – 1:00-3:00pm at Providence Medical Center Everett
- Thurs 4/7 – 10:00am-12:00pm at Lutheran Community Services Arlington
- Sat 4/9 – 9:00-11:30am at Swedish Edmonds
- Weds 4/13 – 1:00-3:00pm at The Everett Clinic
- Thurs 4/14 – 1:00-3:00pm at Providence Medical Center Monroe
- Sat 4/16 – 11:00am-1:00pm at Evergreen Health Monroe
- Fri 4/22 – 1:00-3:00pm at Providence Medical Center Everett
*View the ACP calendar for registration information and check out new class times/locations as they become available.
- Prepare formal advance care planning documents. See ACP’s list of resources that can help.
- File an official advance care directive and other legal documentation with healthcare providers and begin a conversation with them about your treatment choices. 65-76% of physicians whose patients had an advance directive were not aware that the documentation existed (Kass-Bartelmes 2003).
- Share personal advance care plans with family and friends. Designate someone as a primary advocate who will be empowered to make decisions regarding care.
- Promote ACP classes and National Healthcare Decisions Day to friends and family through social media and word of mouth. Download informational flyers to share with individuals and employers.
- Volunteer to become an ACP class facilitator. ACP provides free training, mentorship and professional networking opportunities. Bilingual volunteers are highly encouraged to apply. Visit the ACP volunteer website for more information.
Advance Care Planning Initiative
Less than one third of Americans have an advance care directive in place at end of life. The Advance Care Planning Initiative (ACP) is working to reverse this trend in Snohomish County by sponsoring workshops that guide discussions on what living well means when dealing with quality-of-life issues. The volunteer-led workshops provide an introduction to advance care planning options, including informational handouts with questions and conversation starters that can be shared with loved ones and healthcare professionals to start building a plan for the future.
Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition
The Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition is a countywide alliance of local leaders in non-profit, healthcare, education and business organizations, dedicated to addressing the challenges of delivering sustainable healthcare. The group aims to promote the economic development of the region by improving the health, quality of life and competitiveness of the community.
National Healthcare Decisions Day
National Healthcare Decisions Day exists as a 50-state annual initiative to provide clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to both the public and providers/facilities through the widespread availability and dissemination of simple, free, and uniform tools (not just forms) to guide the process. NHDD entails 50 independent, but coordinated, state and local events (necessitated by the difference in state laws and dynamics) supported by a national media and public education campaign.