Most of us make important decisions every day. Those decisions might to relate to our work, our families, our community….whatever it is, we like to have a say. And yet so many of us don’t have a say when it comes to one of the most important decisions of all – end of life care. Not because we don’t want to, but because we didn’t let anyone know our wishes until it was too late.
This week, National Healthcare Decision Week, communities across the country are holding educational sessions to inform the public about the importance of advance care planning for everyone 18 years or older. Completing one’s Healthcare Power of Attorney and Advance Directive is frequently called “estate planning for the heart” because it helps us feel confident that our wishes for end-of-life care will be honored while also taking the burden off family members to make difficult decisions for us. Yet, until now, these vital documents frequently have not been available to healthcare providers when their patients have needed them.
This week, Governor Ducey signed the Advance Directive Bill that requires the state to establish a process for healthcare providers, including emergency medicine service providers, to access the state’s Advance Directive Registry on or before December 31, 2018, making our choices for end-of-life care readily accessible to our healthcare teams. The State Registry for Advance Directives was created in 2004 and currently houses 38,000 healthcare directives. By providing our healthcare providers with immediate, electronic access to these documents, the Registry will optimize communication (diminish anxiety and disputes among loved ones), minimize unwanted interventions, and help align care with our individual wishes.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) has been a strong supporter of this new law, which is in direct alignment with the goals of its program, Thoughtful Life Conversations. Thoughtful Life Conversations (TLC) seeks to empower Arizonans to make known their life wishes and care directives, and to equip their healthcare teams with the resources to honor them. TLC put together a short video on the importance of making sure your end of life wishes are known. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.
For more information on this program, the State Registry for Advance Directives, or other matters pertaining to end-of-life care, please contact Sandy Severson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for additional information regarding end of life care, we put together a brief fact sheet that you can access here. Providing people with the information and resources they need to make informed decisions is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!