Jackie Dinterman was a social worker on the FMH Intensive Care Unit for
more than 10 years. During that time, she watched many families grapple
with heart-wrenching decisions regarding the care and treatment of loved
ones who could no longer speak for themselves. Faced with their loved
one’s progression of a chronic illness, complications resulting
from surgery, or an acute event such as a stroke, families were exhausted,
stressed, and confused. They often disagreed with one another about “what
mom would want,” sometimes doing what Dinterman could only assume
was irreparable damage to their relationships with one another.
Helping families avoid this stressful situation is one of the reasons that
Dinterman is passionate about Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Advance
Care Planning initiative.
“Advance Care Planning (ACP) is the process of reflecting on, discussing,
and planning for a time when a person can no longer make his or her own
medical decisions,” she explains. “The ACP initiative is based
on partnerships both inside and outside the hospital designed to raise
awareness, provide education and inspire people of all ages and stages
of wellness to plan for these types of issues before there’s a crisis,
when they can think and express themselves more clearly.”
One of the key components of the Advance Care Planning initiative is The
Conversation Project, a national campaign designed to encourage people
to talk with one another about how they want to live during the last phase
of their lives. To support and encourage as many people as possible to
have “the conversation,” FMH is working closely with a wide
variety of community-based organizations to spread the word, including
primary care practices, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Lay health educators affiliated with the FMH Bridges program
are working within Frederick’s faith-based communities, and members
of the Advance Care Planning committee are holding workshops and discussions
for the community at large to stress the importance of the topic. In addition,
the hospital has created a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC)
to keep the patients and their families at the center of this initiative.
“Remember, Advance Care Planning is not an end-of-life plan,”
says PFAC member Nikki Moberly. “We call it a ‘plan for living,’
because it’s about making sure that people live out their last days
according to their wishes. And one conversation can make all the difference.”
When it comes to end-of-life care, one conversation can make all the difference.
For more ideas about how to get started, or to download a starter kit, visitwww.theconversationproject.org.