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Supporting Your Community Virtually

Posted on 03/16/2020

Alternate Ways to Host and Amp up Community Connections

These are not ordinary times, and Nathan Kottkamp, founder of National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), reminds us that “the importance of advance care planning is VERY real right now.” While we are not expecting groups to continue with regular NHDD programming and many of you are addressing urgent or emergency needs, we wanted to share our thoughts now on ways to keep communities connected and will continue to keep you posted in the coming days.

In this recent blog, The Conversation Project’s founder, Ellen Goodman, encourages us to stay connected during this time of “social distancing.”  Keeping communities connected, talking about what matters most, and supporting each other can honor the spirit of NHDD. We believe that having the conversation is another element of “preparedness”.  Learning what matters to those that matter most to us helps families, clinicians, and communities alike understand values and can bring comfort in times of stress.

For those that are looking to explore ways to shift from event-based planning to supporting and keeping your community connected, virtually, here are a few ideas and examples to amp up social connections during this time.

Traditional media, radio, or internet outlets:

  • Promote why conversations and connections matter now more than ever on your local Radio show.
  • Write an op ed piece, letter to the editor or feature story to submit to your local town or community paper that encourages community members to take this time to nurture relationships, conversations about what matters and help people keep connected.

Social media:

  • Use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to communicate the importance of social connections and talking about what matters most. Send out articles and/or links to more information on ACP (link to your local website(s) and theconversationproject.org), or create a live event like virtual book clubs.
    • Your Decisions Matter a collaborative community program coordinated by SAGE eldercare in Summit, NJ is thinking of doing a Facebook live (or webinar) event about a movie or a book – having people read or watch a movie on their own and then join an online panel or discussion.
  • Retweet, share, like, tag others and pass on any ready-made content shared by The Conversation Project@convoproject and other groups promoting connections
  • Host a twitter chat (or a series of chats). Guidance on how to run one or be an active participant can be found here.
    • Check out The Conversation Project’s (@convoproject) past twitter chat by searching for #AskTCP and reviewing some tweets from that chat. As supporting family caregivers to relieve stress is top of mind to many, we discussed how TCP community champions can support those who are caring for families/loved ones during in this current climate of COVID-19. Check out #AskTCP to see tweets from that chat.


  • Share an existing podcasts across your network (via email listserv, WhatsApp, social media outlets, etc.).
    • The Heart of Hospice recently broadcast an Encore Presentation of their interview with Ellen Goodman of The Conversation Project in order to promote National Healthcare Decisions Day, emphasizing the importance of the day and recognizing the value of advance care planning.

Virtual meetings or movie/video nights

  • Use a virtual platform, such as Zoom or WebEx, to host a virtual event. The host or all who join can use video (if available) to connect “face-to-face.” Run an hour-long session or a series of sessions bringing in those you would have had in person. It’s OK to keep it casual and fun noting this may be your first time running these and tell folks to expect mistakes will happen. Community members may be happy to have some laughter in times of stress. Click here to view our guide on running an effective virtual event.
    • A professor at University of Washington who teaches a Bioethics course on surrogate decision making, plans to experiment with a modified version of what she teaches using Zoom as school has gone virtual. She will give the lecture to all and then have her students divide up into Zoom groups of 3-4 (Zoom allows for breakout groups) to discuss their thoughts on appointing a surrogate in case of a traumatic injury and the values behind their choices.
  • Set up a popcorn movie or video watching event, encouraging your community to watch a popular movie/documentary/series of video in their own homes and distribute talking points to help them talk about what matters to them while sitting on their own comfy sofa! Set a time and date to create for this at-home “event”. Check out our videos on YouTube, see if other uplifting movies such as The Farewell could be made available .
    • At Western Washington University, one of their recent ACP events for NHDD held in early March was video-taped (prior to all in-person events being cancelled). A volunteer group, including a retired nephrologist offered a presentation to RN-to-BSN students, faculty, and community attendees titled, “The Realities of Advanced Medical Interventions,” which supports value-based decision-making as a person prepares to complete an Advance Directive. They hope to offer this video to others via the City of Bellingham TV station and put it on YouTube and other platforms for wider in-home availability.

Another idea: perhaps you spread out or move some of your efforts to the day after the recently extended tax deadline (July 15th) on July 16th.”

What other alternate ways are you using or thinking of doing to keep folks connected virtually? Please add to the list by sharing your ideas in the comments section below.

Additionally, we invite community champions (those of you who host events, workshops, and promotion to the general public) to join our Conversation Champions Facebook Discussion Group to share and learn what others are doing to support connections during this time. And, remember, as you navigate current times, know that our Conversation Project team is here for you. We are all in this together.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for the ideas.

    I wish I could use your little video on your website to send out to my close friends here in California where we are captive and homebound.
    The one on the left side of your opening page is my flavorite!

    We’re all in this together!

  2. cadena dial says:

    Free radio station selection.

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