(Left to Right) Nicole Boudle, RN and Jennifer McCalley, ACP Program Coordinator with two of our volunteer ACP facilitators, Priscilla Reyns and Diana MacVeagh.
What type of health care would you want if you became too sick to tell the doctor yourself?
Advance care planning involves learning about the types of decisions that might need to be made, considering those decisions ahead of time, and then letting others know—both your family and your healthcare providers—about your preferences. These preferences are often put into an advance directive, a legal document that goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.
But just making a document like an advance directive may not fully guarantee a patient’s wishes will be understood. A well-informed Healthcare Agent (also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare) can best advocate for a patient when s/he understands that person’s goals, values, and wishes and is willing to honor them—even if they personally don’t agree with them.
As part of Honoring Care Decisions, a Dartmouth-Hitchcock program designed to assist in Advance Care Planning (ACP) for adults 18 or older, facilitators at Cheshire Medical Center work with individuals to establish an advance directive and to facilitate ACP conversations that can help them express their goals, values, and wishes to their Healthcare Agent and loved ones so everyone is prepared if ever needed.
As Program Coordinator for Honoring Care Decisions, Jennifer McCalley, MSW, ACHP-SW not only leads educational sessions, she also trains local volunteers.
“The best part of my role is coordinating the excellent team of volunteer facilitators,” says Jennifer, “We’re so lucky these folks have chosen to give their time to the community in such an important way.”
Jennifer goes on to share that participants appreciate the value of getting guidance on how to talk about their wishes.
“We often hear people tell us that, while they realized it is an important topic, they didn’t quite know how to start the discussion. The response to the facilitated ACP conversations has been overwhelmingly positive.”
In addition to leading educational sessions, Cheshire collaborative care nurses, Nicole Boudle, RN and Lori Guyette, RN help spread the word to their patients.
“Without the documents in place and wishes known, families can be torn apart at what is already a very stressful time.” Nicole shares, “Give your family the gift of knowing your wishes.”
For more information about Honoring Care Decisions, visit dartmouth-hitchcock.org/supportive-services/honoring-care-decisions.html.
Ask your collaborative care nurse or your provider about how to request assistance in preparing an advance directive or call (800) 730-7577 to request a 1:1 ACP conversation with a certified volunteer facilitator.