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Ideas and Resources for National Healthcare Decisions Day: Join the Movement!

Posted on 02/08/2020

Looking for ideas for National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)? Thousands of local, state and national groups across the country are gearing up and either starting to or are already knee-deep in planning for April 16th.   Numerous groups over the year have been sharing their plans with us. We’ve compiled the ideas below based off these fabulous champions’ plans that we hope will get you started.

And, for some inspiration, motivation and preparation, join The Conversation Project’s upcoming February 19th community call on National Healthcare Decisions Day from 3:00-4:30 PM EST (click here for more details and to register).

Are you in a health care setting?

  • Set up tables to educate about and assist with advance directive (AD) completion for patients, visitors and staff at your hospital, in family health centers, and outpatient clinics
  • Set up events in your community at senior centers, elderly housing projects, assisted living to not only bring them information on NHDD but to connect and build relationships
  • Host a variety of activities or tables in the hospital lobby. Display a “Before I die” board that can be actively filled out across the day (or week, month!)
  • Promote NHDD by having an advance care planning (ACP) promotional clip playing across tickers, educational kiosks, announcements and/or any other marketing platforms
  • Offer a take home gift to patients related to ACP and make ACP forms available, notaries available and personnel in place to help
  • Provide in-service education to patients/families and the community in multiple languages, don’t just rely on English

Some examples: The UNC Healthcare hospitals and physician practices in the Triangle area of North Carolina held an event for employees at 4 locations on NHDD to provide information and encouragement to start the Conversation. And, a clinician at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven planned a community event, as well as a public event at the outpatient clinics in which she works.  Massachusetts General Hospital Ethics in Clinical Practice Committee holds an annual ACP booth in conjunction with NHDD on 4/16 in the main lobby of the hospital.  Volunteers from the committee are also available to speak with staff and patients/visitors about the ACP process, as well as provide ACP documents and other resources. 

Why go at it alone, consider doing something in collaboration as more hands make light work!

  • Collaborate on a series of events with other community stakeholder groups and/or start a regional coalition to offer an event(s) on NHDD at one or several locations
  • Reach out to faith-based places of worship to introduce the concept, co-design something together or offer to host a program/event in their space
  • Host an annual event for all hospitals and skilled nursing facilities within your network, gathering volunteers from each place to plan together
  • Use NHDD to launch an ACP initiative as part of a larger, community-wide initiative already established (e.g. as part of a larger healthy aging initiative)

Some examples: Mercy Medical Center hosted a panel with a physician, lawyer, and pastoral care practitioner on end of life planning. Healthy Aging Martha’s Vineyard launched their ACP initiative in April as one component of a multi-pronged, multi-agency collaboration to ensure a health aging community. My Life, My Choices in SC trained 24 nurses with the South Carolina Faith and Community Nurses Association utilizing the Serious Illness Conversation Program, hosted a “Hello” Pastors event to inspire over 20 African American church leaders on how the scriptures support advance care planning, hosted a “Hello” game event for staff at a health care system and another to train community and health care professionals in hosting “Hello” events. Staff members from Georgia’s Veterans Affairs joined their training event. They also hosted numerous media events including two television interviews, two radio broadcasts, and several printed op-ed pieces and radio as part of an entire State-wide coalition, honing in on NHDD (extended to the whole month of April) but that collaborates all year round.

Don’t forget your local or state officials, they want to get involved too.

  • Reach out locally or state-wide to get your Mayor or Governor to give a Proclamation for NHDD- see here for samples.

Some examples: Many states, including KY, NH, PA, SC and TN have had their Governor issue a proclamation for NHDD as part of state-wide, coalition efforts centering around NHDD. The Mayor of Bellingham, WA issued a proclamation for NHDD as part of a community wide, multi prong effort.

Tap into local, regional, state-wide or national news, social media or internet outlets to promote NHDD

  • Promote NHDD on your local Radio show
  • Write op eds or a newspaper articles in your local town or community paper

One example: Health Union, a digital health company that hosts condition-specific online health communities ran this piece on National Healthcare Decisions Day 2019 and posted it across 10 chronic disease-specific discussion group sites.

Promote NHDD within your own circles

  • Tap groups you are already part of and share information through their channels
  • Present and share information at your church
  • Host a booth at your local health fair or begin a “coffee and conversation” group in your neighborhood
  • Use your own social media platforms of which you are connected to communicate awareness
  • Retweet, share, like, tag others and pass on any content shared by The Conversation Project, @convoproject, @nhdd, National Healthcare Decisions Day

Some examples: a member of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches had NHDD information posted on the Council’s website with additional material from The Conversation Project. One physician gave a talk at their local probate bar regarding advance directives from a physician’s perspective. And, the author of “I’ll Have It My Way: Taking Control of End-of-Life Decisions,” presented a seminar based on her book at her local PBS station. This station also broadcasted her made-for-public-television lecture based on the book.

Promote NHDD to youth on college campuses or through other educational institutes

  • Set up a table in a central location on your campus where you can hand out flyers, start discussions, and collect e-mails to send out electronic packets of information to students and staff.

Some examples: One nursing school professor noted she worked with her students and colleagues to increase the number of nurses and nursing students who have completed AD. Another professor shared information at a Town Hall for the entire nursing program in March to get the word out prior to April 16th. One doctor noted she trained 110 clinical care coordinators at The Coordinating Center on Maryland resources and on how to start the conversation for their 1600 youth and young adults in the Rare and Expensive Case Management (REM) and Model Waiver programs, both state Medicaid funded programs; adding ACP discussion to other issues surrounding legal changes that occur when a youth turns 18.

Additionally, check out suggested activities and ready-made tools here to make it easy for you. Grab a coffee and scroll through the many examples on the nhdd.org site or this past blog post from The Conversation Project. Or, listen to The Conversation Project’s past community calls and/or review the accompanying slide decks to learn more about what groups have been doing to promote NHDD.

What are you planning for 2020?  Please share your plans for NHDD 2020 below!

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