Advance Care Planning
You are never too young to plan ahead when it comes to healthcare, and it’s important to make your wishes known in case you can’t speak for yourself. Advance Care Planning is a legal process in which you outline your healthcare decisions.
What is an Advance Directive?
Advance Directives are legal documents and must be completed in accordance with state laws. The Vermont Ethics Network’s provides an online form, Vermont Advance Directive for Health Care, which can then be registered as part of your electronic medical record.
Why do I need an Advance Directive?
We face situations where we’re unable to make important medical decisions. This could happen due to a severe illness, a coma, or any other condition that makes us unable to communicate our wishes.
What does an Advance Directive cover?
An Advance Directive documents the name of the person who you would like to make healthcare decisions for you at a time when you are unable to make them yourself – whether you are at home or in the hospital. It also gives instructions about what type of healthcare or treatment you want, or do not want, in critical situations.
How do I create an Advance Directive?
The process is fairly simple.
The Advance Directive from the Vermont Ethics Network addresses several issues:
- Naming the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you
- Your desired types of treatments
- Treatment limitations (do not resuscitate (DNR))
- Tissue or organ donation
- Burial preferences
Two witnesses must be present and sign the directive along with you. You can revoke all or part of the Advance Directive at any time or use a different form.
An Advance Directive can bring peace of mind
While the thought of detailing your future healthcare direction or helping a loved one write down their end-of-life desires can be emotional, it is important to create an Advance Directive and make it available to those who might need to know including healthcare providers, caregivers, relatives, or EMS responders. You’ll want to ensure that everyone is on the same page and know that your wishes will be respected even if you are unable to communicate them.
What are DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and COLST (Clinician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)
DNR and COLST documents are medical orders to limit treatment decided on between you and your provider.
Why should you consider a DNR and COLST?
- If you have life-limiting medical conditions
- If you want to avoid life-sustaining treatments, such as a breathing or feeding
- Life expectancy is within a year
How is a DNR and COLST set up?
You should have a conversation with your provider about how you would like your life-sustaining treatment handled and they can set up a medical order for a DNR and COLST.