As a nurse, I am uniquely positioned – and have the expertise – to facilitate meaningful conversations with patients and families about present and future health care, and how those interventions align with patient values, beliefs, and goals. That’s why I am joining the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) and the WOCN® Society to participate in the “#ISaidWhatIWant,” social media initiative, and am encouraging my nursing colleagues to say what they want by establishing their own advance care plan.
Advance care planning (ACP) is a process for patients and their families to discuss end-of-life care, clarify related values and goals, and state preferences through written documents and medical orders. In situations where a patient’s decision-making capacity is limited, health care providers turn to family members to make decisions. When there have been no ACP conversations between the patient and family, family members are left to make decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment without input from the patient or with little knowledge of the patient’s wishes.
#ISaidWhatIWant starts with nurses. What better way for nurses to demonstrate the value of ACP than to lead by example? If I want to help my patients and the public realize the true value of ACP and advance directives, I should take that step myself – and I did!
If you have already made an advance care plan, tell your family, friends and followers on social media why you believe in ACP using the hashtag #ISaidWhatIWant. If you haven’t, please do it now as a gift to your loved ones.
There are many online resources available to assist with ACP, such as The Conversation Project --an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Information.
For further information, see HPNA’s Position Statement on Advance Care Planning available at advancingexpertcare.org/position-statements.
Carolyn Watts, MSN, RN, CWON
WOCN Society's Liaison for Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association