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8 Creative Ideas for Spreading the Importance of Having the Conversation in Your Community

Posted on 09/09/2019

The Conversation Project (TCP)’s ambitious mission is to ensure everyone’s wishes for the care they want to receive through the end-of-life are expressed and respected. And, we are not alone. We are humbled to be connected with and learning from thousands of communities across the US and globally who are championing this cause. Looking for creative ways to reach people in your community?  Check out these ideas from some of our fabulous TCP Champions who are reaching people where they live, work and pray.

1.  Taking it to popular community hangouts and locally accessed media:

  • Larimer Advanced Care Planning Team in CO is moving mountains! They host a regular rhythm of events, including a monthly ‘Book Club for Mortals’ at their local library and post regular promotions on Facebook and their websites. They recently shared their plans for Conversation Sabbath on our August 2019 community call (click to check out slides and listen to their recording).
  • Hospice Giving Foundation in CA is running 15 second spots on their local NPR radio station and post their events/educational programs on their community calendar.
  • RiverStone Health in MT, as part of their Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program grant, hosts seminars for the community. To get the word out, their Senior News runs advertisements at meal sites across their county.
  • St. Olaf College in MN shares articles in their college Academic Civic Engagement newsletter.
  • Joe DeMarco, an individual champion in NY hosts a free, open forum one Saturday per month at the local public library dedicated to important conversations. Some months include vendors covering multiple topics, free and open to public.
  • Sig Cohen and Judge (ret.) Carolyn Miller Parr in Washington, DC professional mediators and co-authors of Love’s Way: Living Peacefully With Your Family As Your Parents Age (with a chapter devoted to end of life conversations), cite TCP statistics in their book and cite TCP in every book launch presentation made to the public.
  • To spotlight Advance Directives during National Healthcare Decisions Week, the local paper in Frederick County, MD ran this fabulous article penned by the young adult son of one of our most amazing champions from Frederick Memorial Health Care.

2. Combine with continuing education for health care professionals and patient and family advisory councils

  • Frederick Memorial Health Care in MD, recently held a 3-hour Continuing Education Unit (CEU) for professionals (i.e. social work, RN’s) on how to have conversations. They have been going deep within their system and wide within the community – check out their amazing work and results shared on our July 2018 community call (click on these links to access the slides and recording from the call).
  • Judy Waechter, individual champion in MO and co-chair of the Missouri Cancer Consortium Palliative through End of Life Committee, speaks on this topic in a variety of health care settings, including at professional nursing and social work CE offerings and at physician practices, including their patient and family advisory councils.

3. Capture people’s attention at typical entry points in the health care system

  • UNC Physicians Network in NC provides information during annual wellness visits.
  • Broward Health Medical Center in FL hosts a table in their lobby to distribute information on living wills and health care surrogate forms.
  • Final Steps Bermuda distributes Conversation Starter Kits at the local hospital. The link to the Starter Kits was also sent to the entire hospital medical staff by the Chief of Medicine, putting this on everyone’s radar.

4. Incorporate education into existing consultations with new clients/new members of the community

  • Brandermill Woods Retirement Community-Independent Living in VA addresses end-of-life issues during new resident visits to their retirement home.
  • Caccavaro, Fitzpatrick & Seifart, P.A. in MA, whose major focus of practice is on estate planning, shares their involvement with TCP at every estate planning consultation with new clients.

5. Combine education with family fun

  • Death Talk L-A in ME hosts ‘Art Walk’ events in combination with sharing end-of-life information, providing free children’s activities (e.g. making worry dolls), which garners much praise and thanks from parents.

6. Create multiple touch points and options for all

  • Vidant Health in NC engaged with Netflix to screen the movie “ENDGAME” at several events as part of a book, movie and game offering over a 3 month period. The book offering was “Bridging The Gap” on Kimberly Paul’s Live Well, Die Well Tour. The game offered was the “Hello” Game. To learn more about hosting End Game events, check out our January 2019 Community call recording and slides.
  • Hospice of Santa Barbara in CA recently changed their strategy from having one class where information is distributed and Advance Directives are explained to now having a three part series: 1) Start the talk “Let’s start the conversation”; 2) Distribute and explain their local form of Advance Care Directive (“My Care”) and 3) Have a notary present.

7. Work with and within faith communities

  • Baptist Health in FL is focusing efforts on supporting the Catholic community through education about their specific Catholic Advance Directives documents based on Catholic faith values.
  • St John the Evangelist in MD dedicates a ministry to this work. They are videoing workshop presentations so families and small groups can check them out from their Interfaith Library or eventually view them on YouTube. They are planning a fair with experts on hand to answer questions.

8. Collaborate with other groups to get the word out

  • Several champions are working with their local Councils on Aging, their Ombudsman, and collaborating with high schools, colleges and universities, tapping into the power of students to serve as ambassadors to spread this message to peers and across generations.

Well done to these and all of our champions who are raising awareness, sharing tools and providing support to ensure everyone in their community understands the importance of and is equipped to have conversations about what matters most with those who matter most to them.  These examples, shared with us through our on-going, quarterly community activity survey, are just some of MANY examples we know are out there. THANK you to all who take the time to share with us what you are learning and championing in the field.

Click here to listen to the recording , access the slides and notes from our October 2019 community call where we highlighted various models for starting and sustaining programs to spread the importance of conversations across a community.

More details on some of the above groups can be found on our Conversation champions map. Are you championing TCP’s message in your community and/or looking for others to connect with? Check out our map and add you pin here!

Want to keep connected to The Conversation Project for more ideas from other communities? Sign-up for our community engagement newsletter , follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook), and feel free to reach us at ConversationProject@ihi.org.

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