National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) inspires, educates and empowers the public about the importance of advanced care planning. This nationwide day of recognition encourages adults of all ages to plan ahead of a health crisis and express their wishes regarding their care. In turn, providers and healthcare facilities are able to respect those wishes and support the patient and their family’s plan for complex and end of life care centered around dignity, quality and respect. Advanced care planning gives you the opportunity to explore your goals for care and treatment interventions and takes away the potential for emotional stress from loved ones. Diane Pagan, ANP, Director of Westmed’s Complex Care Management Program, provides guidance and resources to help patients get started.
How Should I Get Started?
In terms of planning for your healthcare decisions, one of the first things you need to do is to start a conversation with your loved ones. Talk with your family and friends and make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what your wishes are, should you end up needing someone to help oversee your care. After you’ve had these conversations, it’s important to complete a few documents and share them with your healthcare team.
Two important documents you will want to consider for advanced care planning include (1) a health care proxy form, which designates a primary medical decision maker to make healthcare decisions for you if you are in a position where you can’t make decisions for yourself and (2) a living will, which is a document that explains your preferences for treatment you wish to receive in an emergency (i.e. intubation, resuscitation, feeding tube).
How Can I Participate in Healthcare Decisions Day?
- After having a conversation with your loved ones, choose a health care proxy.
- Complete a health care proxy form in accordance with state requirements. You do not need a lawyer to fill out your health care proxy form. In New York State, the form needs to be witnessed. In Connecticut, having a witness is optional, but strongly recommended.
- Each state has specific forms and documentation requirements. Caring.org is a free resource with additional information and forms available in multiple languages.
- Make sure to provide a copy of your completed Health Care Proxy Forms to Westmed so they can be included in your medical record.
- Complete an Authorization to Communicate Protected Health Information Form for Westmed.