Today, we’d like to fill you in on the rest of our insightful Q&A with long-time health care professional and advance care planning advocate Kathy Brandt. In part two, she shares her advice and a little about her personal advance directive experience. So you’ll find interesting tidbits and tips to take back to your communities and advocate for NHDD!

Q: What was it like when you first completed your advance directive?

A: I don't recall it being monumental. I understood why it was important and I did it. As a twenty-something, death seemed far removed. Redoing it once I became a parent seemed more serious and took more time, but felt far more relevant to my day-to-day life.

Q: Have you ever helped another person complete an advance directive? How was that experience different than when you completed your own?

A: I've discussed advance care planning and supported my mother, aunt and other relatives. I've also talked to consumers [potential patients] who've called the NHPCO HelpLine and were confused about the form, worried about the implications of completing one or not completing one. I don't find it particularly hard - could be because I am matter of fact about it and see it as a tool to help empower people to ensure wishes are honored.

Q: What would you tell others that are considering completing their advance directive but are intimidated?

A: When talking to the young adults in my office about advance care planning I emphasized what happens if you don't choose a surrogate decision maker. Each state has default decision maker laws which dictate who can make decisions in the event a person is incapacitated and didn't name a health care proxy. The idea of having their parents, who may live in another state and have different values, priorities and wishes make those decisions was a big motivator for some staff.

Kathy Brandt is the Senior Vice President, Office of Education and Engagement at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Kathy leads NHPCO’s educational programming, access initiatives, communications and marketing efforts as well as discipline-specific and interdisciplinary leadership initiatives. Kathy works extensively with the Council of States, which is comprised of more than 40 state organizations working to advance access to quality care at the state and local level. Kathy is also the leader of Caring Connections, an NHPCO initiative to develop and disseminate end-of-life education, engagement and outreach materials to consumers, caregivers and professionals. Started with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Caring Connections focuses on improving access to end-of-life care information and services to everyone facing serious illness, care giving, death and grief and encourages people to plan before a crisis.

Kathy has worked on national end-of-life initiatives for more than twenty years, focusing on professional, caregiver and consumer education, public engagement, care and service delivery model dissemination, diversity initiatives and research. Kathy currently serves on the American Society on Aging Board of Directors and is helping to lead the organization’s strategic planning process.

Want to learn more about Kathy’s support of NHDD and how you can follow in her footsteps? Tweet @Kathy_Brandt with questions or comment on this post, and we’ll make sure you get answers.