Advance Care Planning (ACP)

Advance care planning (ACP) is making decisions about the healthcare you would want to receive if you happen to become unable to speak for yourself. These are your decisions based on your personal values, preferences, and discussions with your loved ones.

 

Advance care planning (ACP) includes:​

  • Sharing your personal values with your loved ones.

  • Getting information on the types of life-sustaining treatments that are available.

  • Deciding what types of treatment you would or would not want should you be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

  • Completing an advance directive to put into writing what types of treatment you would or would not want – and who you chose to speak for you – should you be unable to speak for yourself.

ACP and Health Ministry

Not only is advance care planning (ACP) an important part of the holistic health that faith community nurses (FCNs) and health ministers (HMs) emphasize, but they are uniquely positioned to be champions for ACP. With the trust of fellow congregation members, FCNs and HMs are able to have vulnerable and meaningful conversations about such a challenging topic as ACP.

Below you will find resources for incorporating advance care planning (ACP) into your health ministry and other helpful ACP information.

Conversation Starters
 

The Death Deck lets you explore a topic we’re all obsessed with but often afraid to discuss.

Go Wish gives you an easy, even entertaining way to talk about what is most important to you. This card game helps you find words to talk about what is important if you were to be living a life that may be shortened by serious illness.

The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Their website includes a free downloadable conversation starter kit.

 

The Art of Dying website explores the concept of dying well and intends to serve as a practical and spiritual support to those faced with the prospect of death and dying. It is published by St. Mary’s University and affiliated with the Catholic Church.

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is on April 16, 2020 and exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Help others start to think about advance care planning by celebrating NHDD in your congregation.

"Being Mortal" is a film based on noted author and physician Atul Gawande's book discussing end-of-life and hospice care. You can watch "Being Mortal" for free on the PBS website. For discussion questions to follow the film, email director@healthministriesnetwork.net.

 
Advance Care Education

The Realities of Advance Medical Interventions (Realities) is a presentation offered by health care professionals in Whatcom and surrounding counties in Washington state. Realities communicates, in layperson's terms, the meanings of advanced medical interventions, as well as what the outcomes could mean for patients in the short and long term. Advance care planning, advance directives, and the importance of palliative care are discussed. Upcoming times and locations for Realities are posted on the HMN calendar. You can also watch Realities online by clicking here.

 
Lent and Advance Care Planning

Lent is February 26 - April 9, 2020.

The season of Lent offers Christians the opportunity to reflect on our own mortality and offers Christian churches the opportunity to provide safe spaces to discuss issues of great significance to congregants, especially those who are nearing the end of their lives.   

Lent is an opportunity to discuss:

  • Funeral planning

  • Wills and planned giving

  • Important legal documents including Advance Directives

  • Health care decision making (who should make decisions for me if I can’t make my own?)

And by doing so Christians can:

  • Affirm their call to God to be with them in the midst of trials and triumphs

  • So that, being guided by the Holy Spirit, Christians can walk through all of life in the confidence of the gifts of courage, grace and joy with the Father.

Here are some ideas for activities:

  • Incorporate the topic of end of life and mortality into sermons and newsletters.

  • Show the film, “Being Mortal” before or after services and hold a discussion.

  • Organize a discussion session on dying and dying well.

  • Invite a trained faith community nurse or health minister to walk through advance directive planning with a small group at your congregation.

Faith community nurses and health ministers can provide important support for these conversations. We encourage each faith community to customize their activities to fit the needs of their community. Don’t feel qualified or called to facilitate these discussions? There are experts in our community who are happy to help. Contact us with questions at director@healthministriesnetwork.net.

 
Advance Directive and Help

The advance directive for Washington state is available on the Honoring Choices PNW website. Completed advance directives should be shared with your health care agent, loved ones, physician, and hospital. If applicable, consider sharing them with your nursing home or assisted living facility. It is important that everyone has an updated copy.

PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, WA offers free interactive workshops, guiding participants through the process of completing an advance directive from 6-8pm on the first Thursday of each month at St. Luke's Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Pkwy, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Community organized advance care planning workshops are also offered by health care professionals in Whatcom and surrounding counties in Washington state. ACP facilitators guide participants through completion of an Advance Directive that is consistent with their healthcare goals, values, and beliefs. Free notary service is often offered at these events for those who complete their Advance Directive in the workshop. Upcoming times and locations for ACP workshops are posted on the HMN calendar.

Additional Resource: Funeral Planning

The People's Memorial Association is a non-profit that provides planning resources for low-cost funeral arrangements. 

Health Ministries Network (HMN) is a non-profit in Bellingham, WA affiliated with the Chuckanut Health Foundation.

HMN logo full size.png

800 E. Chestnut St., Ste 1A

Bellingham, WA 98225

director@healthministriesnetwork.net

360-788-6408

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