National Healthcare Decision Day

April_Celtic 2014By Kathleen Ganster

Everyone is well aware that April 15th is Income Tax Day. But did you know that April 16th is National Healthcare Decision Day?

This year marks the 7th National Healthcare Decision Day created to bring awareness to the importance of advanced care planning. While the national campaign focuses on the process on April 16th, advanced care planning is something that Celtic Healthcare does every day through their Journey Program and Journey Counselors. 

“This day highlights the need to take action to make proactive choices for advanced health care or end-of-life healthcare, which is great to bring it to everyone’s attention, but it is important no matter what the day,” said Bill Gammie, Vice President of Value Based Care at Celtic. 

Making those important decisions while not under extreme stress or pressures is obviously the ideal situation for making such important plans. 

“We all make better decisions when we are calm and clear headed – this is no different,” he said. 

And advanced care planning is something everyone should take care of before those plans are actually needed, no matter what age or physical condition. Obviously, for those with chronic health care issues or advanced age, those plans are even more important.  

“Everyone has different choices in life and those choices extend to what everyone wants at the end of their lives,” Gammie said. 

Journey Counselors at Celtic are trained health care providers with the knowledge and experience to work with patients and families to cover all bases and take care of every detail in the planning process. 

One of the tools the Journey Counselors use is Celtic’s Getting Plans Started (GPS), a booklet to help guide patients and their families through advanced care planning. Available as a download through their website, the booklet begins the conversation of advanced care planning and discusses living wills, medical care directives and personal instructions for loved ones when it comes to care and final arrangements. 

Another resource is Five Wishes, a document produced by the non-profit Aging with Dignity. Five Wishes looks at five direct questions: 1) Who is the person that I want to make decisions for me when I can’t? 2) What kind of medical treatment do I want? 3) How comfortable do I want to be? 4) How do I want people to treat me? and 5) What do I want my loved ones to know? 

Gammie said the counselors also discuss POLST – Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, another important tool to be utilized for advanced care planning. 

The counselors sit down with patients and families and use not only these valuable resources, but answer questions that may arise. They also provide hospice education to explain exactly what hospice is and what is can mean for patients and their families. 

“There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about hospice. We like people to know their options and how hospice can really make someone happy and comfortable in the final stages of their life,” he said. 

The Journey Counselors also work closely with other healthcare providers to ensure continuum in medical care and communicating the advanced care plans. While it may be a difficult subject to broach for some providers, that is exactly what the Journey Counselors are trained and experienced in doing. 

“The nice thing about this day is that it brings it to the forefront and celebrates the empowerment people have to make these important decisions before they are needed,” Gammie said. 

He continued, “That is what we do everyday. When the decisions aren’t made in advanced, they may be made under great anxiety and pressure – no one wants to make such important decisions like that.”

For more information about Celtic Healthcare and how your healthcare teams can work together visit www.celtichealthcare.com