For the past several years, I’ve been involved with an organization known as the NC Partnership for Compassionate Care (NCPCC), which is designed to be an umbrella organization that brings together the many groups in North Carolina, such as SNFs, health care trade associations, hospices and hospitals, that have been working on end-of-life health care planning initiatives. This year, the North Carolina Bar Association Health Law Section partnered with NCPCC and with Hospice and Palliative Care in Winston-Salem to hold advance directives clinics in 21 North Carolina counties, where citizens could come, learn about living wills and health care powers of attorney, and actually execute those documents.
At each site we had providers, medical professionals, lawyers and notaries, and sometimes clergy, to answer questions and help people create advance directives. Our plan is to host these clinics in April of each year, around National Health Care Decisions Day, and our goal is for every North Carolina county to have a clinic opportunity. I’d like to encourage our readers to become involved with this wonderful project, either by volunteering or by helping host a clinic in your area. While we are trying to focus the clinics around April, we can also make them happen throughout the year with advance notice. One client recently offered to bring together families and staff of three neighboring SNFs for an event, and we said, “Absolutely, we’ll be there.”
I also want to provide you with a link to the NCPCC website that contains a lot of wonderful information about advance care planning, including a copy of the new simplified advance directive form that is now widely used in North Carolina and is accepted by most of the major hospital systems. That form combines the living will and health care power of attorney into one fairly short document. That website is www.gotplans123.org. You will also find useful videos there, and many of the resources and tools have been translated to Spanish.
I hope you’ll find this useful in your ongoing efforts to educate residents and families about the critical importance of advance health care planning. We’d also love to help you host a clinic and have your organization join as a member of the NCPCC.