“It always seems too early, until it’s too late.”

The National Healthcare Decisions Day Initiative is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations committed to engaging the public in the importance of making decisions about the care they would like to receive if unable to speak for themselves and communicating those decisions to their loved ones and healthcare provider(s).  Goals of this initiative are to raise public awareness of not only the importance of advance care planning conversations but also the documentation of those healthcare decisions, i.e., advance directive.

An additional goal is to encourage facilities and organizations within communities to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives. The Federal Patient Self-Determination Act requires that all Medicare-participating healthcare facilities inquire about and provide information to patients on advance directives. It also requires these facilities to provide community education on advance directives. Unfortunately, despite these requirements and state laws giving patients a choice about their healthcare, it is estimated that only a small minority of people have executed an advance directive.  Moreover, fewer than 50% of severely or terminally ill patients have an advance directive in their medical records.

For more information about National Healthcare Decisions Day, visit: http://www.nhdd.org/.

The Great Plains QIN has been working throughout our region to provide communities with resources that have a clear, concise and consistent message about healthcare decision-making and advance directives.

“Organizations and facilities are joining forces to collaboratively improve advance care planning (ACP) across their community.” states Sally May, RN, BSN, Senior Quality Improvement Specialist, Great Plains QIN. “For most communities, understanding the status of ACP in their community – going beyond ‘checking the box’ on admission to a healthcare facility – is the first step. For others, consistent ACP messaging has been the theme. One community has developed business and post cards that can be provided to individuals wherever that encounter may occur, e.g., by a public health nurse on a home visit or in the emergency department by a hospital chaplain.  A number of communities have provided and continue to provide evidence-based advance care planning facilitator training to assist professionals, healthcare and non-healthcare alike, develop the necessary confidence and skills to assist individuals and families determine their future health care preferences. To have conversations before ‘it’s too late.’”

A Local Campaign to Recognize National Healthcare Decisions Day

Honoring Choices North Dakota® (HCND) has a toolkit available to assist community partners in increasing awareness about the importance of advance care planning launched in tandem with National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16. The goal of the toolkit is to encourage conversations and help participants reflect on how they manage death and dying by providing space and opportunities to discuss end-of-life issues. The initiative includes public presentations, poster exhibits, digital dialogue and more.

The Before I Die ND and MN initiative encourages individuals to take time to think about what is most important—hopes, dreams, and aspirations for living to their full potential. It also encourages individuals to talk with family, friends, and loved ones to define wishes for medical care at the end of life and document them in a health care directive.

The toolkit is available here.