As the Fifth Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day approaches, I cannot help but think about how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished. NHDD was founded out of the passion of a small group of dedicated people and organizations who recognized that we need to do better as a nation with respect to advance care planning. The efforts have produced a grassroots initiative that has now touched the lives of millions. And, we’ve done it with very little money and without a single full-time staffer.
The growth and impact numbers of NHDD are and should be a great source of pride, but the reality is that we’ve only just begun.
A recent study in California found that approximately 80% of people said they believed that advance healthcare planning was important, yet less than 25% had actually engaged in it. At a minimum, those figures ought to be flipped. Sadly, for untold numbers of those without their advance care planning in place, their families are going to be thrust into situations in which they will intimately understand the reality of why advance care planning is so important, which is that the absence of advance care planning all-to-often leads to pain, confusion, frustration, additional time and expense, worry, bickering, and myriad other horribles.
It is my sincere hope that every adult in the US (and Canada, too, since they’ve joined our efforts with National Advance Care Planning Day), will have some exposure to NHDD and will then make it real in their own lives.
Too many of us procrastinate on advance care planning discussions because the timing now just doesn’t feel right or because it’s a hard topic to broach.
NHDD exists to eliminate the excuse. With just one month until the fifth annual NHDD, just mark you calendar, gather your loved ones, watch the Speak Up video and have the talk. And, when you’re done, be sure to document the discussion using one of free advance care planning forms. When you do, the reality will sink in: a burden is lifted and you’re prepared. It’s an awesome feeling.
Thanks to all who have made and continue to make NHDD a reality.
Since September 2011, National Healthcare Decisions Day has hosted a live monthly discussion to raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning on Twitter with the hashtag #NHDD. Friday, March 16th at 10am PST will be the last #NHDD TweetChat before National Healthcare Decisions Day 2012 on April 16th and we hope you’ll consider joining the conversation. To view the transcripts and analytics from #NHDD TweetChats since September, please visit the #NHDD TweetChat archive.
What is a TweetChat?
A TweetChat is a planned discussion on Twitter. There is a set time and place people gather to discuss a topic or set of issues. Usually there is a moderator that guides the discussion and plans topics for the group to chat about.
Click here to join the TweetChat.
- Every tweet helps increase the chance that someone will learn more about advance care planning
- NHDD participants are passionate about raising awareness about the importance of advance care planning, the TweetChat is a great way to meet others who share your passion
- For all the people in our country and around the world that have not yet taken time to document and discuss their healthcare wishes if at some point in their care, they were unable to make decisions for themselves. The taboo of discussing these wishes becomes lessened every time we talk about it (especially if we’re having conversations on a pubic platform)!
Below is a contribution from Michael J. Bernhagen, Co-Producer of Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject.
While we are thrilled about the recent award for Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject, the most important outcome of our work began unfolding one year ago, right here in Wisconsin.
In January of 2011, the Wisconsin Medical Society’s Council on Health Care Ethics asked me to address Council members in our capitol city of Madison. The Council said it had significant interest in the topic of advance care planning, but I was immediately skeptical for two reasons. First, I had repeatedly encountered a general attitude of “polite indifference” toward end-of-life issues when calling on doctors in the course of my hospice work. And, second, I privately feared the Council’s agenda revolved more around pursuing legislative mandates than establishing “best practice” patterns for discovering, documenting and honoring the wishes of chronically and terminally ill people.
Last week, I convened our monthly State Liaisons call. We had a long discussion about what works best for NHDD activities. The group agreed that stories are among the most powerful tools to spur people to engage in advance care planning. Stories can take all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be happy, sad, frustrating, and rewarding. No matter what, telling stories is likely to engage people and help them understand the benefits of advance care planning.
People repeatedly ask me how and why I founded NHDD. Of course, I respond with my story. My story is that I’m lucky. I haven’t really had to deal with a complex healthcare decision-making situation in my immediate family, although we’ve been sharing our wishes for decades. Yet, in serving on several hospital ethics committees, I’ve repeatedly seen the agony that comes as families try to make decision on behalf a loved one who never talked about his/her wishes (and, in most cases, was never asked). I’ve been humbled, however, by countless stories from NHDD participants about how helpful NHDD has been to prevent some of those situations from happening. Thus, stories lead to more stories.
All of us have some story to tell about advance care planning. Don’t be shy. Making the topic personal makes it real. Whether your NHDD event involves a crowd or an intimate group, please consider telling your own story (or even someone else’s). You’ll be amazed how effective it is. And, then, when you’ve got an NHDD success story to tell, share it with us and we can amplify it with this blog!