When National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) was still just a dream, we talked a lot about whether “it was time” and whether we were “really ready” to launch such an ambitious event.  Fortunately, the original planning group agreed not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Ultimately, we took a leap of faith and just launched NHDD, not entirely knowing where it would all go.  By several measures, it has gone very well.  Sure, we’ve got room to improve, but we’ve built a very solid foundation.  One example of the impact of our efforts can be seen in the numbers below. 

The importance of just getting started holds true at the personal level, too.  Many people fail to have an advance care planning talk with their loved ones because they fear they won’t get it 100% right the first time, that they won’t know everything to cover, or that it is all just too awkward because it is such a huge issue.  Of course, it is a very important topic with lots to talk about, but it doesn’t have to all be done at once.  The conversation is one that should actually take place over hours, days, and years.  The problem of getting started can be solved by just marking your calendar for April 16 and using the date as an “excuse” to simply start talking (and then, of course, documenting) your advance care planning wishes. 

All of this holds true for NHDD’s organizational and facility participants.  NHDD participation can start simply with an email or newsletter to all staff.  Indeed, the policies and procedures regarding advance directives should already exist, but it’s amazing how often staff don’t know about them or where to find them.  From there, community events can start small and evolve.  And, recruiting others shouldn’t be daunting either.  Just reach out to one colleague, one membership organization, or one referral source/recipient and go from there.

NHDD will celebrate its fifth year in 2012.  We got this far by being confident in ourselves that what we were doing was the right thing.  It was, and it is.  The same is true of any conversation you have with your loved ones and anything, no matter how small, you do to help NHDD grow.