The Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership is located in Appleton, Wisconsin and we serve the surrounding area. We are a collaboration of two large health systems, a family medicine residency clinic, and the community with the goal of making advance care planning and conversations an integral part of living. While we like to think of every day has National Healthcare Decisions Day, we do like to commemorate April 16th in a special way each year. 2018 was an exciting year as we chose to engage providers on a wide scale and invited doctors, nurses, social workers, and other clinicians throughout northeast Wisconsin to come together, learn about the Advance Care Planning Partnership, and learn from a leader in the field, Dr. Art Derse from Froedert Health System in Milwaukee, WI.
This event was successful as we were able to engage a diverse group of providers, including those who are key champions for this work and others who had no idea that a collaborative and local resources even existed. We connected over appetizers and refreshments, listened to a beautiful musical presentation by a renowned local palliative care physician and his mother-in-law and, importantly, had an opportunity to tell our story including where the Advance Care Planning Partnership came from and where we are going. Our learning session was fantastic and included continuing medical education (CME) credits, which was well appreciated.
There are always challenges in engagement and events, including weather— in our case this was in the form of a late-spring snowstorm. About 2/3 of attendees who RSVP’d to the event ended up coming, so while it was smaller than expected, it wasn’t empty. In addition, engaging providers is a challenge in itself. We were very cognizant of the timing of the event, the location of the event, and including CME to entice attendees who required credits. In all, organizing events are challenging. When working with our teams, we keep this in mind and weigh the benefits and consequences of the type of engagement we are planning to pursue.
This year, NHDD will be more widespread and we are doing more to engage our partners to take the lead with support of the Advance Care Planning Partnership. Our coalition takes pride in the fact that we are utilizing collective impact theory and do nothing on our own—all work is in collaboration and to support our partners to achieve their mission and support ours. We are working with members to reach out to a number of assisted living communities and our health care facilities with key information and guidance back to our resources and facilitators. We also have strategically planned a multi-part community education session over this time and will be holding a faith-based series, too. While we do this work at other times of the year as well, this is a great talking point and can help to make the messages stick with community members.
To conclude, April 16th is a fabulous opportunity to reach out, get the word out about advance care planning and local resources, and engage current and new partners in this vital work. But, let’s be honest, every day is a great day to do this! Don’t let your message get lost in the shuffle and as you plan NHDD this year and beyond; think about impacts that are lasting and actionable.
Submitted by: Ellen Koski, MPH, CPH. Director, Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership.
229 S. Morrison Street, Appleton, WI 54911