Monday, April 14, 2014

Join National Healthcare Decisions Day…Because Your Decisions Matter!

April 16, 2014, will be the seventh annual National Healthcare Decisions Day.  The annual event, has been formally recognized by Congress and numerous state and local governments, and has included participation by 76 of the most prominent national healthcare, religious, and legal associations and organizations. 
At every level, the goal of this nationwide initiative is to ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity in America have both the information and the opportunity to communicate and document their future healthcare decisions.  The first years’ results were impressive—over 750,000 people obtained resources to make their healthcare decisions known—but there remain millions of Americans to go. 

While making healthcare decisions is often difficult in the best of circumstances, making decisions for others is even more complicated. Each of us has the ability to guide our healthcare providers and our loved ones about what we want. Advance directives give you the ability to document the types of healthcare you do and do not want, and to name an “agent” to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. Having an advance directive can be valuable for all adults, regardless of current age or health status.

In recognition of this, National Healthcare Decisions Day strives to provide much-needed information to the public, reduce the number of tragedies that occur when a person’s wishes are unknown, and improve the ability of healthcare facilities and providers to offer informed and thoughtful guidance about advance healthcare planning to their patients.

Please visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website at for a variety of free materials (including free advance directives forms for every state) and tools to assist with thoughtful reflection on healthcare choices and ideas on how to get involved. Additionally, please share this information with your loved ones and colleagues.
With healthcare, “your decisions matter,” however, others need to know your wishes to honor them. There are no wrong answers when thinking about healthcare choices and completing an advance directive. Please use April 16, 2014, to decide, discuss, and document your wishes, whatever they may be.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hospice Community Honors Its Volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 6 - 12

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization salutes the 400,000 trained hospice volunteers who serve every year.

Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared the first National Volunteer Week to recognize Americans who give of their time and talents to benefit others. This was the same year, 1974, that the Connecticut Hospice – one of the first hospices in the country – opened its doors changing the way dying persons were cared for in the U.S.

During National Volunteer Week, April 6 – 12, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization celebrates the work of all the dedicated hospice volunteers who provide support, companionship and dignity to patients and families being served by hospice.

More than 400,000 trained volunteers provide 19 million hours every year to help care for patients and families and to support hospice programs in their mission to serve.

Hospice volunteers are often at the bedside of patients and families but they also assist in the office, help raise awareness, contribute to educational programs, support bereavement programs, provide fundraising support, and more.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that every year, an estimated 1.6 million patients and their family caregivers receive the high-quality, compassionate care that hospice provides.

“Hospice volunteers help the people they serve live every moment of life to the fullest and enable the organizations they work with to achieve their mission in the community,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “Most hospice volunteers choose to give their time helping others because of their own experience with the compassionate care hospice provided to a dying loved one.”

The overwhelming majority of hospice care is provided in the home and hospice volunteers are important members of the interdisciplinary team that make this happen.

It is federally mandated under Medicare that five percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers reflecting the vital role that volunteers play in the provision of care.
Thank you to every dedicated hospice volunteer serving in communities across the county.