National Healthcare Decisions Day: Making End-of-Life Decisions
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
Thursday, April 16, 2015 has been set aside as National Healthcare Decision Day. The North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers encourages everyone eighteen and older to consider and communicate their particular end-of-life wishes. Most people have some idea of their end-of-life preferences, but few people make their preferences known to others- loved ones, physicians, and/or other healthcare providers. Likewise, most people assume they know their family members’ end-of-life wishes but few people actually confirm this through discussion; usually because they anticipate an awkward, unpleasant, difficult conversation. Many helpful websites are available as links on the National Healthcare Decisions Day website, www.nhdd.com. This site also provides valuable tools and suggestions for having these imperative discussions with the important people in your life.
The first step is having a clear and specific idea of one’s end-of-life preferences. Next, it is important that these preferences are communicated with loved ones and that they are put in writing. An Advanced Directive is a document that specifies end-of-life preferences, especially those pertaining to the withholding of treatment under certain circumstances. Completing a Healthcare Power of Attorney will appoint someone as a decision-maker should you be unable to make decisions pertaining to your own medical care. This is an important step to insure that your preferences are honored when you cannot speak for yourself. Both documents are available in formatted forms, usually through hospitals or online. Having these documents prepared by an attorney is another option.
As a result of National Healthcare Decisions Day, it is our hope that many more people in our community will have thoughtful conversations about their healthcare decisions and complete reliable advance directives to make their wishes known. “Fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient, and healthcare providers and facilities will be better equipped to address advance healthcare planning issues before a crisis and be better able to honor patient wishes when the time comes to do so.”
Contact NASW-NC Members:
Darlene Clunan, MSW Student
Dewitt Black, ACSW, LCSW