Free class to help plan long-term care decisions

Aug 13, 2014

The Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition is hosting a free class on palliative care and advance care planning in case of a serious injury or illness.

This course, Respecting Choices, will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the Pointe of Grace Church, at 5425 Harbour Pointe Blvd. in Mukilteo.

It will provide information and tools for residents to talk about their wishes with family, friends and health care providers, and prepare written advance directives (health care power of attorney and living wills) in accordance with state laws.

"Advance care planning is simply conversations that invite people to reflect on their personal values, to learn about treatment options at the end of life, and to talk with their loved ones and physicians about how they want their values to determine their care options,” said The Rev. Eileen Hansen, moderator of Wednesday’s class and a member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee.

“These ongoing conversations can then be translated into documents to ensure that an individual's priorities and choices can be honored in a situation in which they are unable to speak for themselves.”

The Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition is a collaboration of medical and community partners aimed at improving the economic prosperity and vitality of our community through better health and health care value.

This course falls under the Coalition’s Palliative Care & Advance Care Planning initiative, one of two proof of principle initiatives.

“The purpose of these free public classes sponsored by the Snohomish Health Leadership Coalition in partnership with local organizations is simply to facilitate these important conversations without bias,” Hansen said.

“Oftentimes we prefer to defer end-of-life conversations until we or a loved one are in a health crisis. Sometimes we avoid the conversation completely. Without stated care preferences, loved ones are left with guesses and guilt in deciding the care options for loved ones who are no longer able to speak for themselves.

She said the optimal time for advance care planning conversations is before such crisis so that preferences can be considered and expressed without stress and “with greater clarity, calmness and unity.”

“Too often our values and priorities may not be reflected in the healthcare we receive — particularly at the end of life,” said Scott Forslund, director of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition.

“This is too important to be left to the health care system alone. Now is the time to start the thoughtful decision-making process.”

This class will help residents explore questions, such as: Who will be your voice if you are unable to speak? What life-sustaining treatments do you want? What values shape your choices for treatment? What documents make your choices known to others?

For more information about the Palliative Care and Advance Care Planning Initiative or the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition, visit www.snocohealth.org.

-Edited by Beacon staff

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