What to Know About Advance Care Planning

The Blueprint — April 11, 2019

Advanced care planning is crucial to ensure that your health care team, family and loved ones are informed to make important decisions on your behalf during a health crisis. No one can predict when a catastrophic medical event may take place, so don’t wait to start these imperative conversations.

Blue KC Director of Care Management Julie Ham shared three important things to know about advanced care planning:

Know the Law

Some may not realize that advance care planning is a legal matter, and every state regulates it differently. The documents that allow an individual to determine their end-of-life care are called advance directives. Prior to starting the process, it’s important to make sure that your advance directive is in accordance to your state of residence. It’s also very important for your family, health care proxy, and your physician to have a copy of your advance directive. Advance care planning regulations for Kansas and Missouri and all U.S. states are outlined on the Caring Info website.

Communicate Your Wishes Clearly

Even if your advanced directive states your end-of-life plan in writing, it’s still crucial to thoroughly communicate your requests for them to be followed. Loved ones and family will be grateful to know your preference while they work through crisis or grief.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It

There is never the perfect time nor the perfect way to start the conversation about advanced care planning. If your family member or loved one doesn’t have an advanced directive, bridging the subject could be a useful reminder that it is important to do. Or, if they are resistant, starting a conversation may help you to understand the reasons behind their resistance and begin to work through those. You could also use a real-life situation, if possible. Here are some examples of conversation starters:

  • Share how a coworker or friend is struggling with making difficult decisions for their parent and that you want to talk about it before you could be put in the same situation.
  • If you are watching a TV show with your loved one and a character is faced with a medical decision or dilemma, use that as a conversation starter.
  • Approach it from a legal and financial standpoint if the opportunity arises by asking your loved one if they have an attorney and whether they have had a conversation about advance directives together.

Blue KC has a Licensed Clinical Social Worker on staff available assist members with resources and questions regarding advance care planning is, as well as clinical nurse case managers who can assist with specific health care issues or questions regarding advance care planning.