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Advance care planning begins with a crucial conversation

There’s gentle wisdom in the saying, “Clarity brings peace of mind.” This sentiment applies to unexpressed medical wishes, too. Even with the best intentions, our family, close friends, and medical team can only fully understand our preferences and medical wishes with open communication before the fact.

We must emphasize that here in New York State, medical care decisions can only be made by a loved one on your behalf if your wishes are clearly expressed in writing. Each of us needs to articulate our healthcare preferences across various medical scenarios. This may seem daunting or even abstract, but the process is very simple.

Getting Started…

The Conversation Project offers a valuable resource – an accessible Conversation Guide designed to assist you in having meaningful discussions with the significant people in your life about your (or their) preferences for care through the end of life. Don’t hesitate to get started.


Advance Care Planning: Frequently Asked Questions

It’s imperative to understand that in New York State, medical care decisions can only be made by a loved one on your behalf if your wishes are clearly expressed in writing.

The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust – for example, a family member or close friend – to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself.

By appointing a healthcare agent, you can ensure that healthcare providers follow your wishes. Your agent can also decide how your wishes apply as your medical condition changes. Hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers must follow your agent’s decisions as if they were your own.

  • You may give the person you select as your healthcare agent as little or as much authority as you want.
  • You may allow your agent to make certain healthcare decisions only.
  • You may also give your agent instructions that he or she has to follow.

What is an Advance Care Plan?

An Advance Care Plan (ACP) is essential within a comprehensive healthcare directive. This document empowers patients, enabling you or a loved one to express treatment preferences and goals during unforeseen medical events when direct communication may be limited or impossible. Allowing your wishes to be known provides a roadmap for your care during any unexpected medical event, facilitating timely decision-making that aligns with your wishes.

What are Health Care Directives?

Healthcare directives are at the core of all care plans and encompass advance care planning (ACP). This process empowers patients to articulate treatment preferences, goals, and wishes with loved ones when possible.

Having a plan in place before unexpected medical events is crucial. In fast-paced medical scenarios, healthcare professionals rely on documented directives to align care with patients’ wishes, even when direct communication isn’t possible.

What are the core components of an Advance Care Plan?

An Advance Care Plan typically includes:

  • Healthcare Proxy: Designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Living Will: Outlines preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care.
  • Medical Preferences: Specifies treatment preferences, values, and quality-of-life considerations.
  • End-of-Life Care Preferences: Preferences for hospice care, palliative care, and spiritual or cultural considerations.
  • Legal Documentation: Ensures preferences are legally binding through advance directive forms.

These documents ensure your healthcare preferences are known and respected during a medical crisis.

What are Advance Directives?

An advance directive is a powerful tool enabling individuals to articulate their desires and values concerning their health and end-of-life care. Think of it as a ‘living document’ – one that evolves as you age, reflecting your changing preferences and circumstances. Typically, these directives encompass a Healthcare Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, designating a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf. Additionally, they include a Living Will, delineating specific treatment preferences such as resuscitation, life support, and end-of-life care. Advance Directives play a pivotal role in ensuring that an individual’s wishes regarding medical care are known and respected, even in instances where they cannot communicate them personally.

Ready to get Started?

Calvary Hospital has put together a list of advanced care planning steps for patients and families to learn more about what advanced care planning is and why they should put an Advance Care Plan in place.

Take Action: Start your Advance Care Plan

Step 1: Initiate the Conversation and Choose Your Healthcare Agent

  • Begin by discussing your healthcare preferences and selecting a trusted Healthcare Agent.
  • We recommend choosing someone familiar to you, like a family member or close friend, who will advocate for your wishes.

Step 2: Empower Your Healthcare Agent

  • Your Healthcare Agent will serve as your advocate, representing your preferences and choices in medical care.
  • Ensure they thoroughly understand your preferences by discussing various common healthcare scenarios.

Step 3: Clarify Your Values and Beliefs

  • Reflect on your values and beliefs regarding medical care, particularly in end-of-life situations.
  • Utilize tools like values assessments to pinpoint your thoughts and feelings.
  • Explore the wealth of well-curated, free Conversation Guides offered by The Conversation Project. Think of these guides as friendly companions, guiding you through those vital conversations with your loved ones about your (or their) wishes for care through the end of life.

Share your plans and preferences with your medical team to ensure they align with your wishes.

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