Why is it important for advance care planning to take place in the community as well as in hospitals and medical offices?
If we truly want to realize Honoring Choices PNW’s vision that everyone will receive care that honors personal values and goals at the end of life, we must encourage everyone to first identify their personal values and goals.
Yet, in communities, there are individual fears and confusion, and misunderstandings and misinformation about advance care planning. To change these perceptions, we need to work with and within communities.
Honoring Choices PNW is already actively working to address the perceptions with community groups like AARP, Home Instead and Washington State Health Advocacy Association. We speak at events, develop engaging education materials, and seek out opportunities to augment and amplify the work. In early December, we’ll be hosting a table at the American Cancer Society’s local CAN event.
Hospital program participants are also enthusiastically reaching out to community partners. Overlake Medical Center is working with its local YMCA to facilitate group conversations and document completion. PeaceHealth in Bellingham has been reaching out to other medical networks, local non-profits, higher level educators, and faith-based communities to help create consistency in advance care planning education and documentation. Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center leads information sessions at senior housing in Spokane and trains certified facilitators to provide community workshops, presentations and conversations in Southwest Washington.
By bringing more information and fostering more opportunities to talk about future health care decisions, we can inspire conversations about the care people want at the end of life. Then, we can be that community with “a particular characteristic in common”: we all receive care that honors personal values and goals at the end of life.