A document that speaks for the unspeakable when decisions matter

Employee News & Views Editor: April 14, 20145 Comments

The Palliative Care team at Community Regional Medical Center encourages you to complete your Advance Healthcare Directive – a legal document created to record your medical preferences for treatment in the event you are unable to make your own healthcare decisions.  On National Healthcare Decisions Day, Wednesday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the hospital cafeteria, members of the Palliative Care team will be available to help you complete your directive or answer questions that can help you get started. 

Getting sick or injured isn’t planned, and in the blink of an eye we can find ourselves in a situation where we are not able to speak and make our wishes known. No one thinks it will be them, until the unexpected strikes. Your family and doctors will turn to your advance directives if you're unable to make your own health care decisions and by having written instructions, you can help reduce confusion or disagreement among family members.

Ask yourself and your loved ones

Who knows your wishes for healthcare if you are too sick to speak? Do you know what your loved-ones want for care if they get sick or injured – do they have an advanced directive? And would your siblings want something different for your terminally-ill parent – causing a relational hardship because there’s no advanced directive speaking on behalf of your ill parent’s wishes?

Yes, these things are scary to think about and much like disaster planning – we avoid it.  But, as healthcare professionals, we ask every patient on admission if they have an advance directive. If they don’t have a directive, we ask if they would like to give a verbal directive – if they are able.

It’s much more difficult to have a conversation with our patients about their healthcare wishes if we haven’t even considered our own.  As much as we fight it, we will all have a last day. Having a directive helps make sure our wishes for these circumstances, to include “the end of our lives,” are known and followed.  As healthcare providers, we have seen the anguish on the faces of families having to make tough decisions for their loved ones – decisions that were so much harder to make because no one ever talked about these important decisions.  Take a step to protect yourself and your loved-ones if the unexpected happens.  Get the directive done.  They can be revoked or revised any time you want.

Join the Palliative Care team on April 16 in the Community Regional cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for National Healthcare Decisions Day to complete your Advance Healthcare Directive.
Christine Swift MSN, RN, CHPN, CCRN
Manager Palliative Care Services
Community Regional Medical Center

5 responses to A document that speaks for the unspeakable when decisions matter

What a great idea!

What a great idea! Unforunately I missed this opportunity. Do they recommend a particular website or way to do find the forms online?

Link for CA Advance Directive

Hi- sorry you missed the "big day". There are lots of versions of the California Advance Healthcare Directive online and most are free. Below is a link for a version that is on the Forum. You can also print one by going into "Documents -> Misc. Forms -> Advance directive (English and Spanish) from the Forum. Don't forget to have the form either notarized or signed by 2 witnesses and to give a copy to your primary provider along with a copy to your surrogate in case of emergency. Thanks. http://www.communitymedical.org/news-events/blogs/news-views/document-sp...

Advance directive

Here are my tips for those that have few relatives. I have outlived my husbands, parents and siblings. My only relative is my daughter in Washington. Given this scenario, I named my daughter and my neighbor as my decision makers. My neighbor is my walking partner, a nurse and we both go to the same doctor. I discussed my concerns with her and my doctor, then made my decisions. Please make sure that your family knows your wishes.

Great tips!

Thanks for your comment, you bring up very important reminders. It is not necessary for our named surrogate decision maker to be a blood or legal relative; it is much more important that the individual(s) know your wishes and are willing to speak for you in an emergency. And it's great that you have discussed your wishes with your physician and decision maker, they could be making big decisions and should know your wishes. I think nurses make great surrogates, especially if they know you well!

Advanced Heatlh Care Directive

I am so thankful that you are making this information available. Daily I see families strugling because their loved ones did not make their wishes clear. Or, I see people who think that by specifying DNR, that all their end of life decisons have been made. Please be kind to yourselves and to your family by completing an Advanced HealthCare Directive

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