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national healthcare decisions day


Success! A Look Back at NHDD 2011

It's been exactly one month and two days since National Healthcare Decisions Day 2011!

I wanted to take some time out to say thank you for all you did to make NHDD 2011 bigger and better than ever. Our participation numbers took a nice step up, but it was our activity level that saw a huge jump.



Thank You

'Never doubt a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world because its the only thing that ever has.' Those words from the mouth of renowned cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead have never rung as true as they did today, April 16 on the Fourth Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day.

National Healthcare Decisions Day 2011 has proven a BIG success. Such an impactful national awareness initiative as this one would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of many 'committed citizens.' So we, the NHDD executive committee and team, would like to use this opportunity to extend our thanks to all who had a part in making it possible.




Today is the day!

That's right; it's finally April 16, 2011—today is the Fourth Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day!

We’ve challenged our friends, family members, neighbors, colleagues and complete strangers to ‘have the talk’—to confront their healthcare decisions head on before it’s too late! That was only the lead up and today is just the beginning of our wide-ranging effort to spread the word about the importance of advance care planning. However, we have worked hard spreading the word to date. So today, in our NHDD blog posts, we’ll celebrate our efforts. We’ll post new ‘have the talk’ stories, interesting tweets, pics from events held in honor of NHDD this week and even a relevant video or two.
So let’s get the ball rolling with Amber, 7 years old and already an advance care planning advocate. She posted this video message yesterday:
Check back every hour on the hour for our celebratory NHDD posts.




Proclaim It.

Putting Pen to Paper to Make it Official...

Not one, not two, but FIVE state proclamations (and counting) have been issued declaring April 16, 2011 as National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD). Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Virginia have all officially recognized NHDD.



Breaking ACP News!

Personalize Your Care Act of 2011 Introduced Today...

'Today, tomorrow, and everyday should be National Healthcare Decisions Day!"

--M. Joshua Morris (@LVDone), one of our Tweeps (NHDD Twitter follower)

 The aforementioned sentiment couldn't be more true to the NHDD mission. And, this afternoon as I write this post, we are one step closer to achieving that goal for the American people. Just moments ago long time advance care planning champion Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3rd) introduced H.R. 1589, the Personalize Your Care Act of 2011. This act would compensate or 'provide benefits to' physicians for encouraging patients to document their medical wishes and be proactive in making their healthcare decisions. In the press release announcing the proposed legislation, Congressman Blumenauer cites his support of NHDD as well as how this act will aid the conversations we are promoting through the NHDD initiative. Legislation like the one the Congressman has proposed is key to raising the profile of advance care planning in communities nationwide and I hope our elected officials, regardless of party will lend their support to make it happen. I'll keep you posted on developments! See the official announcement of the Personalize Your Care Act of 2011 below.



The Pledge


So you’re an individual in an organization that isn’t doing anything for NHDD, what can you do? ... The Pledge!
We can all start with ourselves... including me! I did my advance directive about three years ago, and since then have learned that the person I chose as my agent hates hospitals. I chose this person because they are the most practical decision maker in the family so I thought it made sense if the situation arises where difficult decisions need to be made about my healthcare, he could be the one to do it. Well except for that thing about hating hospitals.
So now we’re just two days from NHDD and I’m going to take the pledge to update my advance directive, and do my absolute best to discuss my wishes with my family. One of the hardest aspects of advance care planning for me in the past has been discussions with my family. Just the thought of it makes me slightly anxious. I think they hear me talk about how important it is so often that they don’t hear me. So I get disappointed, if I can’t talk to my family about my healthcare decisions, who am I to be advocating to anyone else about how important advance directives are? This is something Christian Sinclair and I have often discussed and as disheartening as it may be, sometimes your family sees you as just that, family, regardless of the insight you may have from your professional experience.



NHDD Makes Headlines in the Midwest

That’s right; National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) participating organizations must be working over time to get the word out because their efforts are paying off tremendously.

For today’s NHDD and Advance Care Planning News Round Up, we found an NHDD mention in the blogosphere...

In a recent post titled ‘Gearing Up for National Healthcare Decisions Day,’ Angela Morrow, RN—and author of About Palliative Care Blog—exalts the importance of advance care planning, and tells a little bit about her personal advance directive experiences.

Plus, as we scanned our news aggregators, we stumbled across not one, not two, but five news stories about NHDD in publications all over the Midwestern United States. So we've devoted this round up of NHDD mentions to that particular region...

In the Northwestern most part of the Midwest…

“Experts encourage sharing health care wishes,” a story, highlights the efforts of The Central Minnesota Council on Aging (CMCA) to promote awareness of the need for advance care planning during NHDD 2011.

In the ‘mid-Midwest’…

The Northwest Herald reported that there is a “National Healthcare Decisions Day event planned at MCC.” According to the article, McHenry County, the Chicago End-of-Life Care Coalition (CECC) Northwest Branch will sponsor a free screening of a film in support of the NHDD initiative.



One Month until National Healthcare Decisions Day

Maybe you heard about NHDD for the first time in a newspaper article this week, or maybe you have been participating as a healthcare organization or professional for three years.  No matter what, you have a chance to make a large impact with over a thousand organizations and countless events on April 16, 2011.   On that day in your city and across the United States, people will be talking about some of the biggest 'what if...' questions we can face as human beings.  On first glance it can seem intimidating, but discussing your wishes for your own care should you become sick actually gives you control, and it gives your family a sense of peace in understanding what you want.

So look for the events in your town, or start your own with our tools.  If you have an interesting story, we would love to have you share it with us.  It may even be featured on this site!



NHDD Insider Chats: Q&A with NHDD Executive Committee Member Kathy Brandt (Part 1)

2011 marks the fourth annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) and we – the NHDD staff – are celebrating by working to ensure that April 16, 2011 is the best NHDD to date! In that spirit, we are touching base with some of our veteran supporters and asking for their perspectives on the NHDD initiative and mission. If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know that we’re also picking these highly respected healthcare professionals and NHDD advocates’ brains about their personal advance directive experiences.

Most recently, we caught up with National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s (NHPCO) Senior Vice President of Education and Engagement (and NHDD Executive Committee Member) Kathy Brandt. Kathy had so much to share with us about the NHDD initiative and framing the national debate on advance directives that we’re sharing her insights in a two-day Q&A feature. Here’s part one of our chat with the NHDD veteran supporter and advocate:

Q: [Kathy] you’ve been in the healthcare industry, particularly in the hospice field, for over 20 years. How has that fueled your dedication to the raising the public profile of advance directives and their importance?

A: Having worked at the hospice that cared for Terri Schiavo (when she was admitted to the program) and then working at NHPCO during the media frenzy during her last weeks of life, further intensified my commitment to advance care planning.

During the last weeks of Terri's life as her family’s heart-wrenching drama played out on national television, we received literally thousands of emails and calls each days from people wanting to know how to get an advance directive. Yet despite all this free publicity regarding the importance of documenting care wishes, the percentage of Americans who have completed an advance directive has not increased since the days before Terri died.

That is why NHPCO and I are committed to the NHDD initiative. Most people won't or can't talk about these issues - we need to promote this topic far and wide.

Q: As a member of the NHDD Executive Committee, how will you measure the growth and success of NHDD in the next five to 10 years?

I'd love to come to a time when everyone facing every developmental and life-milestone - sees advance care planning as a routine conversation. Marriage, birth of a child, moving, diagnosis of a chronic or life-limiting illness, divorce, graduation - these are all sentential events that would be wonderful triggers for these important conversations and the documentation of wishes. People should be asked about their wishes and who they want to make decisions every time they renew their driver’s license - like organ donation.

Q: With your aforementioned goal in mind, can you share your hopes for NHDD and advance care planning in 2011?

A: I have always believed that a big piece of our early NHDD work was in preparation for our Tipping Point. As described in Malcolm Gladwell's book, the Tipping Point comes at “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point" of a movement or social phenomena that ultimately changes the culture of a group.

During those two weeks in March 2005 when the world was focused on the hospice in Florida that was caring for Terri Schiavo, I wondered if we had finally reached that Tipping Point in terms of public acceptance of and investment in advance care planning. However, research on the utilization of advance care planning has demonstrated that we absolutely aren't there yet. The recent fire storm around death panels is further proof that we have a long way to go. My hope is that folks who were appalled by the negative spin associated with advance care planning during health reform debates can be energized to engage their families, friends and communities in advance care planning this year.

Check out tomorrow’s morning post for part two of our NHDD Insider Chat with NHDD Executive Committee Member and NHPCO Senior Vice President Kathy Brandt.