National Healthcare Decisions Day occurred last Friday (April 16), so you may ask, “What day is the best day to begin discussing with loved ones what their wishes are for care through the end of life?” The answer is any day.
The arrival of COVID-19 last year created a surge in advance care planning discussions with loved ones and health care providers not only with older adults but also among younger people and people of color, according to Laura Pilati, Engagement Coordinator for Honoring Choices Virginia.
“It’s been interesting because initially there was a lot of coverage in the media and people were accessing online tools,” she said. We saw an increased interest in this type of planning from younger generations – those who have more of the immortality complex.”
The discussion of advance care planning goes beyond COVID-19, though, and Pilati emphasizes that these conversations should revolve around a person’s beliefs and wishes about their care. This will help people making decisions for a loved one’s care understand those choices and make decisions when that person is not able. These discussions can begin in various ways, should be ongoing, and be held with someone who that person trusts.
“For some, it could be with their provider – a lot of people have trust in their provider,” Pilati said. “For others, especially for communities that have been marginalized, it can be someone else … a family member, a friend, a pastor. Trust is really the bottom line. Who is the most trusted source in the person’s life?”
Nationally, resources for conversations with patients, residents or family members can be found at The Conversation Project. And while the country is still pushing through COVID-19 vaccinations, there is also a COVID-19 specific conversation guide as well as a conversation starter kit.
Pilati said Honoring Choices Virginia’s is holding the last of its professional learning series from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET on May 12, featuring a session on advance care planning and perinatal health. The primary audience for this session includes:
- Advance care planning “practitioners” or advocates who are interested in expanding their perspective to include alternate views on advance care planning
- Professionals and advocates in related fields (dementia, mental/behavioral health, disability, and perinatal) who are interested in learning more about advance care planning and resources to support their work
- Anyone else interested in the topic
Click here for more information.