It’s not something that’s pleasant to consider, but sometimes life deals a bad hand. Sudden illness or injury may prevent us from communicating our desired care instructions, leaving those nearest to us burdened with trying to sort out what they perceive we would want.
What Is Advanced Care Planning?
“Advanced care planning is a process people can go through where they have a chance to discuss and write down their preferences for future healthcare treatments should they have an accident or sudden illness that leaves them unable to communicate in a dire medical situation,” explains Jessica Rivers, a trained Advanced Care Planning Facilitator and Care Coordinator.
It is appropriate for anyone over age 18 to take care of Advance Care Planning. Life is uncertain, and anyone could be involved in a car accident or face a sudden stroke. Having your wishes spelled out makes it easier on everyone.
Preparing Your Advance Care Planning
An appointment with the Social Services Department at Pullman Regional Hospital can help you square away important documents in case of emergency. The appointment takes about two hours. “We have a conversation, complete documents, and get those documents witnessed if we are here at the hospital,” notes Rivers. “We help you get them on file in key locations, like the hospital or with your primary care provider.”
- The first document you’ll complete is a durable power of attorney for healthcare. “This is where you name the person you want to speak on your behalf, should you be unable to communicate,” explains Rivers. Of course, you would want this person to be willing to accept the responsibility and carry out your wishes as you have documented them.
- The second is a healthcare directive. This lists the life-sustaining treatments you would accept or refuse, based on certain medical conditions. A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order is one consideration that would make that list.
The Advance Care Planning Process at Pullman Regional Health
When you reach out for an ACP appointment, you’ll receive a bit of pre-screening to help identify which person you want as your healthcare agent to uphold your durable power of attorney for healthcare. This individual should also attend the Advance Care Planning meeting. They should be willing to honor what you want and advocate for you when you are unable. You may have family members you’d like present at the meeting to discuss the impact your choices could have on them. You can opt to have your teen children present, depending on your unique family dynamic and the kids’ ability to understand what’s happening and why.
During the appointment, the ACP-trained facilitator will ask about past experiences that could inform your decisions in a grave situation. They’ll also inquire about a “good day” in your life to uncover more about quality of life issues. Family members are encouraged to share their concerns during the meeting.
“Essentially, we want family members to ‘buy off’ on your wishes. It’s your chance to have your voice heard and have your family informed,” concludes Rivers.