Integrated Health Partners, along with other national, state and community organizations, is leading a massive effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making—an effort that has culminated in the formal designation of April 16 as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD).
NHDD organizers are asking interested organizations and individuals throughout the country to help raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning on this special day—and throughout the year. To help realize this goal, they have created a Web site with information and tools for the public to talk about future healthcare decisions and execute written advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living wills) in accordance with their applicable state laws.
The website (NHDD.org) also includes tips on how advocates can raise awareness in their communities. In addition to signing up your organization to participate, here are some of the ways IHP members can help this important cause:
• First and foremost, lead by example…be sure you have thoughtfully considered and made your own healthcare decisions known.
• Next, make sure everyone in your organization is informed about NHDD (including staff, volunteers and others) and ask for their involvement to promote NHDD in your community.
• Keep advance directive forms accessible and make sure that everyone is able to explain the form and respond to questions from patients and their families.
• Develop a standard process for having discussions with all of your patients 18 and older, and a follow-up process to get a copy of the completed form.
• Share copies of the completed advance directives with other providers co-managing your patients.
• Occasionally review the form with your patient to ensure it’s still aligned with patient wishes and that their advocates are still able to make decisions on behalf of the patient.
• Provide a link on your organizational Web site to NHDD.org. It features a variety of information for the public and providers on advance care planning.
• Set up an exhibit about NHDD at your main entrance and offer information about advance care planning as people come by.
• Distribute NHDD promotional materials and advance care planning educational brochures at upcoming community events or health fairs.
• Distribute flyers about NHDD in strategic locations such as elevators in public buildings.
Although several states have engaged in advance directives awareness events and numerous organizations have devoted substantial time and money to improving education about advance healthcare planning, only a small minority of Americans have executed an advance directive. NHDD seeks to address this issue by focusing attention on advance healthcare planning from a variety of directions simultaneously.
Organizations and coalitions interested in participating are encouraged to sign up at the NHDD Web site. State coordinators are also being recruited to develop statewide networks and outreach activities. For details, visit NHDD.org.