New initiative, supported by Atlantic Health System hospitals, will bring workshops to familiar spots in Summit, Pompton Plains

SUMMIT & POMPTON PLAINS, NJ — SAGE Eldercare today officially launched a new outreach program, Your Decisions Matter, to engage the public in conversations about end-of-life care and decision making, in familiar places throughout the community.

The initiative, developed in partnership with Atlantic Health System’s Overlook and Chilton Medical Centers, will host workshops in places that are safe and informal such as at a coffee house, YMCA, local library or house of worship. Other community events might include a movie screening, game night or panel discussion. Additionally, Your Decisions Matter will provide resources on relevant topics such as advanced directives, palliative care and hospice care, as well as follow up with all participants with additional help and resources.

Sign Up for Madison Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The initiative is supported by a three-year grant from the Community Advisory Boards at Overlook and Chilton.

“Overlook Medical Center has long championed the importance of thoughtful and personalized end-of-life care,” said Alan Lieber, president of Overlook Medical Center.  “We are proud to partner with SAGE to continue to spark the very necessary conversations that people will need to make compassionate and informed decisions for themselves and their loved ones.”

The goal of the program is to encourage individuals to talk with their loved ones about what matters to them most in their final days.  Facilitating and normalizing this difficult topic for families will lead to peace of mind knowing that wishes will be followed, particularly at times when a patient is not able to advocate for themselves.

“Working with patients at every stage of life, we’ve found many families still struggle with how to talk about a loved one’s wishes if they become seriously ill,” said Stephanie Schwartz, president of Chilton Medical Center. “Partnering with community organizations such as SAGE Eldercare allows us to guide families through these difficult times and provide them with the right tools and support to make more informed decisions.”

A recent survey found that 87% of people believe it is important to put their own end-of-life preferences in writing, but only 23% have actually done so.  Additionally, 90% of people plan to talk to their loved ones about end-of-life care, but only 27% have had this conversation.  Some reasons given by those surveyed include: feeling uncomfortable with the subject matter, too busy, it is “not the right time because no one is sick”, not wanting to upset or scare a family member, and finally, not wanting to think about death.

“The purpose of the program is to help remove the taboo that often exists when talking about end-of-life care by bringing the conversation to the community,” said Angela Sullivan, Executive Director at SAGE Eldercare. “The Your Decisions Matter initiative is aware of various cultures and beliefs and recognizes that all wishes are not alike, but all are respected.  The workshops will be a safe place for making those wishes known.”

The intent of the program is not only to give guidance and support but to do so in a safe and informal atmosphere such as at a coffee house, movie screening, house of worship, panel discussion or other community event. Additionally, Your Decisions Matter will provide information at these events on relevant topics such as advanced directives, palliative care and hospice care, as well as follow up with all participants with additional help and resources.

“When someone attends a Your Decisions Matter workshop, they will receive a starter kit with valuable tools to help them begin talking to family members about end-of-life decision making,” said Project Coordinator, Nina Tiger. “They will also share experiences and connect with other people in their community, learn about advance care planning and, most importantly, gain a valuable resource that they can turn to again and again.”

For more information please call Nina Tiger at 908-598-5511 or email yourdecisionsmatter@sageeldercare.org. 

You can also find the program on Facebook: @yourdecisionmatter or at: www.sageeldercare.org/services/yourdecisionsmatter.

# # #

Since 1954, SAGE Eldercare has been helping make the communities it serves amazing places to age.  The organization provides a wide array of information, support, and services designed to help individuals lead the most independent and active lives possible.  From helping with errands, to exercise classes, community programs, care planning, and home health care, SAGE’s expertise helps older adults remain independent in their own homes.  SAGE is committed to being the leading provider of programs and services to meet the changing needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers throughout Union, Essex, Morris, and Somerset Counties.  For more information, please call 908.273.5550 or visit www.sageeldercare.org.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System - Powered by a workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, serving more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers more than 400 sites of care, including seven award winning hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center, Goryeb Children’s Hospital, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute.

Offering a full continuum of care, the system includes Atlantic Medical Group, one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey with more than 1,000 physicians and providers, 12 urgent care centers, Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Recognized as one of the Best Places to Work by both Modern Healthcare and Fortune Magazine, Atlantic Health System attracts leaders in the field of health care, from CEO Brian Gragnolati, who is currently Chairman of the American Hospital Association, to the numerous team members who serve as leaders across a wide breadth of clinical associations and research entities. Atlantic Health System's Morristown Medical Center is named the number one hospital in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and Castle Connelly. For more on all of Atlantic Health System’s award-winning hospitals and services visit atlantichealth.org.

# # #