What is National Healthcare Decisions Day?
National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) raises awareness of the right everyone has to decide on advance care planning and create an advance directive document. This day also serves as reminder to those who have created an advance directive to make sure their wishes and goals of treatment have not changed.
NHDD was founded by health care attorney Nathan Kottkamp in 2008. Prior to that, the state of Virginia held a “Virginia Advance Directive Day” in 2006 and 2007, a well-received initiative with 100% hospital participation within the state. In 2012, this effort was joined by The Conversation Project (TCP), which continues to encourage the health care planning conversation.
Why are advance care planning (ACP) and advance directives (AD) important?
Advance care planning (ACP) and advance directives (AD) are important so that you get the care you want, should you be unable to speak for yourself. It also reduces the burden on those who care about you. This prevents them from having to guess what you would want done and your goals for your care.
How do I create an advance directive?
Appoint someone to be your health care agent. This should be someone who understands your wishes and goals of treatment and who can be trusted to advocate for the care you want.
Then, fill out an advance directive document, sign it, and get it properly witnessed. This can be completed with or without an attorney. Keep the original document and give a copy to your health care agent and a copy to your physician or health care provider, so they can add it to your electronic health record.
After filing the document, share this information with family and friends so they know who you chose to be your health care agent. Talking about your experience will also help educate and inspire others to complete their own advance directives.
What questions should I ask myself and discuss before doing my ACP & AD?
- What makes my life most meaningful?
- What does being “healthy” mean to me?
- What scares me most about being sick?
- What scares me most about dying?
- Have I had any experiences that have shaped the way I think about disability and/or death?
All Americans are encouraged to ensure that their future health care choices are known and protected. The process does not take long, and it is free.
Additional information, including downloadable advance directive documents, can be found at wismed.org/hcw. Another valuable resource is theconversationproject.org.
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