SUMMIT, NJ - Overlook Medical Center in Summit, as part of a regional effort to raise awareness about the importance of advance care planning, is launching 'Your Life, Your Wishes,' a campaign to educate patients about the importance of advance care planning (ACP) and talking with their physicians and loved one about their healthcare goals.
The campaign is part of a larger, regional effort that AllSpire Health Partners, an alliance of seven leading healthcare systems throughout the northeast, is supporting to raise awareness in their communities about the importance of advance care planning in combination with National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), which takes place on Saturday, April 16.
“Overlook Medical Center is known for providing excellent care for our patients and that care extends to educating our patients about all of their healthcare planning options” said Alan Lieber, president of Overlook Medical Center. “Through the 'Your Life, Your Wishes' campaign, our physicians and staff will be encouraging our patients to consider their health goals, values and preferences, and share their wishes with family members, healthcare providers and trusted others. These conversations will help patients and their loved ones plan ahead and advocate confidently and effectively for one another when it matters most.”
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Polling shows that, while 82 percent of Americans believe in the importance of putting their healthcare preferences in writing, only 23 percent have followed through by executing advance directives. Similarly, more than 90 percent of Americans agree with the importance of having conversations with their loved ones about their care preferences, yet only 30 percent have actually made these thoughts and instructions known in advance.
Deprived of vital information about what matters most to people when they are unable to make decisions about their treatment or explain their wishes, families and providers experience uncertainty, stress and the anxiety of wondering whether the decisions they are making will enhance or diminish their loved one’s quality of life.
“As a physician, I have seen too many families who avoid having the important discussions about advance care planning and are left wondering whether decisions they’re making reflect the wishes of the person relying on them,” said John Audett, MD, chief medical officer, Overlook Medical Center. “The 'Your Life, Your Wishes' initiative reminds all of us to sit down with our loved ones and make our wishes known so that we and they are confident that, in the future, the time we have left is spent focusing on what really matters to each of us.”
This year’s NHDD theme is “It Always Seems Too Early . . . Until It’s Too Late”, and Overlook Medical Center believes that its participation in this year’s outreach efforts will encourage more patients to talk with their healthcare providers about advance care planning as an integral part of routine healthcare.
While conversations about advance care planning can be difficult, they are essential in helping patients and the people they trust feel more knowledgeable and confident about future healthcare decisions.
Advance care planning begins with personal reflection about health goals, values and preferences, followed by multiple conversations with trusted others regarding critical medical situations that may arise in the future. With these conversations as a foundation, individuals can then create an advance directive that legally appoints a healthcare representative and an alternate representative, and documents information that will provide guidance for future treatment and healthcare decision making.
The AllSpire Your Life, Your Wishes campaign focuses on the following important elements:
- Advance care planning is not about death and dying. It is about individuals taking control of their healthcare future.
- Advance care planning is an integral part of complete healthcare throughout the entire cycle of life.
- Advance care planning begins with the first of many conversations that enable individuals to tell their providers, families and trusted others what really matters to them, and enable providers to help patients understand the medical conditions they may experience.
- Advance directives are legal documents that explain and preserve an individual’s goals, values and preferences so they can be communicated and honored when the individual cannot make or advocate for healthcare decisions. These documents can be tailored to individual needs.
For additional information regarding the 'Your Life, Your Wishes' initiative, visit YourLifeYourWishes.com, a new website devoted to providing the tools and resources individuals and families need to plan and share their healthcare wishes with the people who will be acting on their behalf.