The team in Spiritual Care is often asked what the purpose is for an advanced directive; what is a “living will”; and what decisions can a healthcare power of attorney actually make?
Each of these tools are documents to help with advance care planning – planning that outlines medical treatments one would choose if they are not able to communicate their wishes to their family. Having these tools completed can give one a peace of mind and help ease your family’s anxiety as they will know your preferences.
Here’s why it matters – if you or your loved one gets injured or suddenly becomes ill and cannot speak or make decisions, the family needs to understand what treatments the patient wants. And the family (or other responsible designee) needs authorization to make needed decisions based on the person’s wishes and intentions.
To ensure that you receive the care that you would like, all that’s needed is to fill out the advanced directive forms which are available here.
No one is Immune to Illness or Injury
Unfortunately, none of us knows what tomorrow will bring. Even if you are young and healthy, a situation could arise where someone else must take control of your healthcare. And while most of us believe that only the elderly need to prepare for the end of life, this preparation needs to be addressed by everyone, regardless of age.
Life is joyful and abundant, however it can end before we are ready.
Help Your Family
All too often, the NHRMC chaplains hear, “I have no idea what Mom or Dad wanted.” Or, decisions are made without family agreement because the patient’s wishes are not known. Without guidance (from the patient) it can be difficult to navigate next steps. All too often, reaching the next step results in hurt feelings, debate and decisions that take many, many days to make.
Whether to insert a feeding tube, whether to discontinue a ventilator and/or whether to start/stop dialysis are all examples of these decisions—and ones that are made at NHRMC every single day.
Advance Care Planning ensures that when these decisions are made, they are done so based on the patient’s wishes. The forms are simple and straightforward. Completing them will help ensure that wishes for end of life care are as clear as possible.
The team in Spiritual Care knows these conversations are not easy. We are glad to serve and support family (and friends) around this topic. A chaplain from Spiritual Care is available 24/7 to assist and can be reached at 667.7014.
This was prepared by David Long, the Director of Spiritual Care at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Chaplains are available to serve and support patients, families and staff at NHRMC and respect all traditions, faiths and beliefs. David can be reached at 667.5553 or at [email protected]