Regretfully many individuals living with serious illness receive medical care that is inconsistent with their values, preferences and goals of care. Consequently, some patients experience unwanted, unnecessary and burdensome health care leaving the family concerned and confused with regard to medical decision making. Improving care for individuals living with serious illness starts with earlier advance care planning.
Advance care planning is a general term used to describe the process by which an individual communicates their preferences for medical care in advance of a serious illness or an inability to speak for one’s self. April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day and I encourage you to take this opportunity to speak to those important to you about what matters most to you as in the event you were facing serious illness.
Thinking about serious illness and discussing medical preferences can be daunting, but it is important that these conversations happen with those who matter to you. Thankfully there are tools and resources that can assist you as you engage in advance care planning. For example, “The Conversation Project” is a national initiative dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for health care in the last phase of life. A particularly helpful tool is “The Conversation Project Starter Kit” which can be found at www.theconversationproject.org.
Hospice of the Bluegrass is committed to improving care for the seriously ill in our communities and this includes providing education, resources and tools on advance care planning. You can learn more about advance care planning at www.hospicebg.org/advancecareplanning. For specific questions on advance care planning or hospice care please call 800-876-6005 or email [email protected]
Todd Coté, MD, HMDC, FAAHPM, FAAFP
Chief Medical Officer
Hospice of the Bluegrass and Palliative Center of the Bluegrass