Encouraging conversations about end-of-life care

April 24, 2017

Providence Health & Services in Southwest Washington is leading a communitywide effort to highlight the importance of advance care planning, and helping make these difficult conversations easier.

“What would happen if you became very sick and couldn’t tell your doctor what kind of care you wanted?” said Sandy Adams, advance care planning manager with Providence. “Knowing more in advance of a crisis helps everyone honor a patient’s wishes.”

Empowering 30 community volunteers

Sandy Adams, advance care planning manager

Education is key to ensuring the wishes of our loved ones are expressed and respected. To help raise awareness, Providence trained 30 volunteers to become Community First Step Advance Care Planning Facilitators. Through presentations, workshops and one-on-one support, the facilitators help extend advance care planning conversations beyond the hospital walls and out into the community.

“Through this initiative, more families will know who their loved one wants to make decisions for them if they are unable to speak for themselves. As a result, fewer families and health care providers will be left struggling to make difficult decisions without the patient’s guidance,” said Adams.

Outreach activities in 2016 touched the lives of 420 community members who reported an improved understanding of advance care planning and its important role in their health care.

Inspiring compassionate care across the state

Working with our partner, Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, we integrated advance care planning assistance in four Providence Medical Group clinics in 2016. This innovative pilot is informing the development of a statewide framework for care that is centered on the hopes and concerns of each patient.

Providence invested more than $53 million in community benefit across the southwest Washington area in 2016. Advance care planning was identified as an area of great need in Providence’s community health needs assessment, based on findings that there were few local resources for end-of-life communication. Investing in advance care planning is an important way we are responding to community needs and improving overall health.

You can learn more about advance care planning and download an advance directive form at Providence St Peter’s patient information website.