It's a difficult conversation, but one that can be guided by specially trained volunteers. Ridgeview Medical Center, along with other major health care systems across the states, is implementing Honoring Choices®. Modeled after an internationally acclaimed program pioneered in Wisconsin, Honoring Choices encourages family conversations, selection of a health care agent and completion of an advance care plan (health care directive). Family conversations are guided by specially trained volunteer facilitators.
Honoring Choices was launched at Ridgeview in 2012 to replace its "Five Wishes" document. If you already have completed Five Wishes or any other version of an advance directive-even those from other states-they are completely valid and it is not necessary to complete the new form.
According to Sue DeGolier, director of Volunteer Services and Honoring Choices volunteer coordinator and trainer, "What makes Honoring Choices unique is the opportunity to complete the document with a trained facilitator-someone who will guide you through the process and explain the benefits and risks of your choices in a way you can understand." For health care facilities across the state, Honoring Choices provides a standardized process and forms to reach a common goal of getting patients to complete an advance care plan. The forms-and the support-are free, and you are not required to have an attorney present for the documents to be valid.
Who should complete an advance care plan?
This document is important for anyone age 18 or older. Copies should be kept in your medical records and by your health care agent; you should also keep a copy for yourself.
What happens if I don't complete an advance directive?
If you choose not to complete this document, you will still get the care you need. Advance care planning will help you plan for situations where you:
• Can't make your own decisions
• Aren't likely to recover
• Had a major injury or loss of function (for example, a brain injury from an accident)
It will also help you make a thoughtful choice when selecting your health care agent.
What is a health care agent?
A health care agent is an individual you choose to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are not able. These decisions may be about end-of-life care.
How often should I review my health care directive?
It is recommended to review your wishes every time you have a physical exam or whenever any of the "Five Ds" occur:
• Decade-when you start each new decade of your life
• Death-whenever you experience the death of a loved one
• Divorce-when you experience a divorce or other major family change
• Diagnosis-when you are diagnosed with a serious health condition
• Decline-when you experience a significant health decline
When will my advance care plan be used?
You control your medical care as long as you are able to make your own decisions. If you are not able to communicate your wishes or make your own decisions, your health care team will follow your wishes as outlined in your directive.
How can a trained facilitator help?
Ridgeview facilitators are uniquely qualified to guide you through conversations and the process of completing an advance care plan. Some of our volunteers are retired nurses, social workers and clergy. Your facilitator will meet with you in the comfort of your own home to answer your questions and help you complete your directive.
How do I get started?
For information about initiating a free conversation with a Ridgeview volunteer facilitator, call 952-442-2191, ext. 5735. For information about Honoring Choices, visit www.honoringchoices.org.