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Providence Hospice of Seattle to host end-of-life planning discussions in recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day in April

March 25, 2013

For Immediate Release:

Contact:
Cynthia Flash
(425) 603-9520
cynthia@flashmediaservices.com

Families encouraged to 'have the conversation'

SEATTLE, WA (March 25, 2013) – Providence Hospice of Seattle in April and May will hold a series of free events aimed at educating the public about the importance of end-of-life planning. This includes encouraging everyone to talk with loved ones about how they would want to spend their final days - and making sure their wishes are written down.


Called “advance directives,” these legal documents provide written instructions to guide family, physicians and other healthcare providers on people's wishes at times when they are either too ill or hurt to express themselves. There are no right or wrong answers – just individual wishes.

Many of the events will use The Conversation Project, a grassroots national effort to help people in an interactive manner to "have the conversation" about end-of-life planning. These seminars and workshops are open to the public and coincide with National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, 2013.

Providence Hospice of Seattle's workshops will be held between April 1 and May 1, 2013. These include:

Date

Time

Location

Address

Event Title

April 1, 2013

12 pm

Providence Point

4135-A Providence Drive SE,

Issaquah

Normalizing the Conversation:

End of Life care

today

April 9, 2013

12 pm

Peter Claver House

7101 38th Ave South, Seattle

Five Wishes for the Vietnamese

Community

April 9, 2013

12:30 pm

Providence Hospice

of Seattle

425 Pontius Ave N, Suite 300

Seattle

Having the

Conversation

April 10, 2013

11 am

Merrill Gardens

at Renton

104 Burnett Ave S.

Renton

Advanced Planning: 5 Essential Documents

You Need to Know

About

April 17, 2013

6 pm

Providence Hospice of Seattle

425 Pontius Ave N, Suite 300

Seattle

Having the

Conversation

April 18, 2013

12 pm

Daystar Retirement Village

2615 SW Barton St.

Seattle

Advanced Planning

with the Five Wishes

April 23, 2013

4 pm

Ballard Landmark at GenCare

5433 Leary Ave NW, Seattle

 

Normalizing the Conversation:

End of Life care today

April 24, 2013

1 pm

Mission Tabernacle Baptist church

2801 S Jackson St, Seattle

 

 

Advanced Planning

with the Five Wishes

April 30, 2013

8 am

Harborview Medical Center

325 9th Ave, Seattle

 

Palliative Care

Conference

April 30, 2013

3 pm

Providence Mount St Vincent

4831 35th Ave SW, Seattle

 

Advanced Planning: 5 Essential Documents

You Need to Know

About

May 1,

2013

7:30 pm

St George Episcopal Church

24219 Witte Road SE, Maple Valley

Normalizing the Conversation:

End of Life care today

“Though advanced directives are crucial, it’s not just about signing papers," said Stephanie Mehl, RN, MS, clinical liaison with Providence Hospice of Seattle. "Having conversations with people we care about is a gift for everyone. Such talks can improve relationships, assure wishes are met, contribute to healthier grieving and generally create a fuller, richer experience.”

It's not unusual for people to struggle when starting these conversations. However, by avoiding the conversation, families and loved ones are often faced with making difficult choices at the end of life without knowing what their loved one would want.

Such discussions and planning help ensure that individuals' wishes are met at the end of their lives. According to a 2008 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), research found that when patients had end-of-life discussions with physicians, they chose fewer aggressive interventions. Individuals made choices that result in:

• 8.3 times less likely to be resuscitated
• 6.9 times less likely to be on a ventilator
• 3 times less likely to be in a hospital Intensive Care Unit
• Earlier and longer enrollment in hospice care
• Better bereavement for caregiver

Another way to start the conversation about one's end-of-life wishes is to obtain a form that guides people through the topic. There are several types of advance directives: Living Wills, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms, Five Wishes and Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care (DPOA). The POLST form is commonly used in Washington state. Any time individuals are admitted to a hospital or nursing home, they are asked to complete the POLST form. The Five Wishes form is legal in Washington and many other states. This form, which is easy for non-healthcare personnel to use, helps guide families through these issues. A Durable Powers of Attorney for Healthcare names a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on behalf of a temporarily or permanently disabled or incapacitated individual.

Many people sit down and fill out the forms as a family so that everyone in the family knows what their loved one wants should they near the end of their life. If someone is facing a significant illness, having that conversation earlier - while they have the energy - rather than later - when they are much sicker - is best. Involving a physician in the discussion can aid understanding of treatment options.

Beginning the conversation is often difficult because it causes families to address life and death issues. But it's necessary. Using The Conversation Project as a guide offers a loving, simple, coached method for families to work through this difficult topic. “At Providence we recognize the importance of these conversations and want to build some momentum in normalizing this issue," Mehl said. "We know these talks are hard, which is why they are often avoided. Providence can help as some of our planned activities will include coaching people how to start these conversations.”

The Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990 gives individuals the ability to tell their healthcare providers and loved ones what we want. Yet most people haven’t taken action. According to a study by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, fewer than 50 percent of severely or terminally ill patients had an advance directive in their medical record. And between 65 percent and 76 percent of physicians whose patients had an advance directive were not aware that it existed. Those numbers are surprising, given the fact that Five Wishes, POLST forms and Durable Powers of Attorney can be completed without an attorney, cost nothing, and are relatively easy to complete.

Additional free information is available at the National Healthcare Decisions Day website at www.nhdd.org and through The Conversation Project website at www.theconversationproject.org.

"An advance directive will help those around you know what types of care you want," said Peg Rutchik, Vice President of Hospice Services with Providence Hospice and Palliative Care. "Take the time today to write down your wishes and be sure to share these documents with your family and healthcare provider."

About Providence Hospice of Seattle: Founded in 1975, Providence Hospice of Seattle is a recognized leader in the community for providing innovative services and compassionate end-of-life care for adults and children living with life-limiting illness throughout King County. The trained and dedicated staff offer medical expertise, emotional and spiritual support, and promote informed choices, comfort, management of symptoms, and quality of life. Hospice services are provided wherever the patient resides. Community grief support services for adults and children are also available. More information is available at www.providence.org/hospiceofseattle.