Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were unable to speak for yourself? How would you let other people know about your wishes? Who would speak for you?
Imagine you are in a serious accident and you are taken to the emergency department of the hospital. The physicians contact your family to seek direction, as you are unable to speak for yourself. Your family is upset, scared and they do not all agree on what the next steps should be. They wish they knew what to do.
Or imagine you are suddenly diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. You find yourself in the intensive care unit and you can no longer speak or write. Artificial life support is the only thing keeping your heart beating and lungs breathing. You are receiving excellent care, but your physicians believe there is no likelihood you will ever leave the hospital alive.
Now imagine that your family does know what to do because you spoke with them about your preferences while you were still healthy. Perhaps you wrote those preferences down ahead of time. Your family or your friend would know they were making the right decisions, helping to ease a very stressful and emotional situation. Doesn’t that give you peace of mind?
In follow-up of the very successful “End-of-Life” community forum held in June of 2009, the community of Clearwater is moving forward with a new community-based program called Advance Care Planning (ACP).
“It is important that residents of Clearwater are prepared and have a voice in their future care, even when they’re unable to speak for themselves,” said Berni Easson, Community Integration Health Services Administrator with Interior Health. “ACP is a process that can help people work through these difficult conversations and help set their minds to rest.”
“ACP is not a process that you need to go through alone,” said Sandra Holmes, of the Clearwater Advance Care Planning Team.
Members of Clearwater’s community can volunteer to be trained in how to respectfully guide people through these difficult conversations. Selected volunteers called facilitators will be available to help you explore your values and wishes about your future health care needs.
“Ultimately your wishes can be written down so that when the time comes, you are still speaking for yourself even when you can no longer communicate, bringing peace of mind to you, your family, and your friends,” said Dr. John Soles.
A Community Forum is set for Thursday, June 9, to provide more information on Advance Care Planning. Members of the Clearwater ACP team, which includes community members and health care professionals, will be available to engage in discussions and answer questions. Watch for more information in the weeks leading up to the community forum.
– by Clearwater ACP Team