Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Planning ahead to know how to react in times of a crisis is always recommended and sadly some crisis situations such as illness or accidents may put you in a state of health where you cannot communicate your wishes regarding your care. That is where advance directives come in.

Today we have two representatives from Carle – Gregory Scott, RN, who is with Faith Community Health and Jeanny Douglas, RN, who works in population health. Gregory’s work includes informing community members about the importance of planning and naming a power of attorney for healthcare as well as providing resources to do that before the time comes while Jeanny works to connect people with advance care planning facilitators to educate and help complete a power of attorney for healthcare or a living will, if desired.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decision Day. Tell us a little bit about why it is important for people to plan ahead regarding their care.

· Documents created as a result of advance care planning discussions with loved ones offer the greatest likelihood that a person’s medical preferences will be honored when that person is unable to speak due to a health condition.

· This is about learning what types of decisions may need to be made and planning ahead to help your loved ones and your healthcare providers during the stressful time of a medical emergency.

· This could be due to a severe injury or a disease. It is recommended that individuals with scheduled outpatient procedures who are sedated or placed under general anesthesia complete advance planning processes prior to a scheduled procedure.

· Every individual over the age of 18 should have a plan and completed advance directive forms on file with their physician or health system.

Can you share a specific example where an advance directive may be essential?

· When an older individual has a sudden stroke and is unable to communicate.

· Someone who survived a severe accident but cannot make decisions

· Someone with post-operative complications who is not regaining cognitive abilities.

What kinds of decisions could the designated agent have to make?

Sometimes decisions must be made about the use of emergency treatments to keep you alive. Doctors can use several artificial or mechanical ways to try to do this. Decisions could include:

· CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

· Ventilator use

· Artificial nutrition (tube feeding) and artificial hydration (IV, or intravenous, fluids)

· Comfort care

How do you start creating an advance directive?

· It is important to think, share, choose and write.

v Think about your priorities and wishes. This can include what a “good” day looks like to you. This can include things that are important to you such as cultural or spiritual specific wishes.

v Share those wishes with your loved ones so they know what to do.

v Choose someone to speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself. Have meaningful conversations with that person and other family members so everyone understands your choices.

v Write your wishes down. We recommend completing a power of attorney for healthcare or creating a living will.

v You do not need an attorney or a notary to complete the Power of Attorney for Healthcare or Living Will forms

v Keep the original form in a secure location. Provide a copy to the identified agent and your healthcare providers, which is the spokesperson.

What is an advance directive document?

· It is a legal document that goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.

· It helps others know what type of medical care you want. Make your family, friends, clergy and physician aware you have your wishes recorded. Make the document available to your healthcare organization and physician.

· You might think of it as a living document—one that you can adjust as your situation changes because of new information or a change in your health.

· Documents to use can be found at

When do you review your document to make sure it is up to date?

· Review your decisions for advance directives the process using the five “D’s” timeline.

v Decade

v Divorce

v Death of a close family/friend

v Diagnosis of a significant health condition

v Decline in Health Status.

How does Carle help those wanting to start planning?

Carle offers a program to assist patients in making informed decisions about future healthcare needs. To get started:

· Call your primary care doctor’s office to schedule a phone visit with a social worker or an advance care planning facilitator.

· Email us at to learn more.

· Visit to see our advance care planning tools

Where can Carle patients share the document?

· MyCarle account

· Mail a copy to Health Information Management, 611 W. Park St., Urbana, IL 61801. ATTN: HIM/ACP

· Bring a copy to your next appointment at Carle.