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August 2014 Professional Newsletter – Executive Director’s Message

My two favorite questions to ask health care professionals when I am presenting are, “How many of you have an advance directive in place? How many of you feel comfortable asking a patient to complete a POLST form?” I adopted the strategy of asking these questions after a physician friend told me of her experience asking these questions to a room full of senior physicians and no hands were raised! My experience has been very similar … with nurses, social workers, chaplains, physicians and administrators … about 20% of the room raises their hands.

Here in California, there is a new POLST (Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) form that goes into effect in October. Given how few are comfortable with using them, I guess it is not surprising that many health professionals are unaware of this important development.

So, I wanted to use our time together this month to invite you to learn more about (and ideally join!) the organization that is spearheading the whole advance care planning and POLST activity in California, the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (the Coalition).

I am not exactly unbiased, as I am a member of their Board of Directors, but the Coalition has been driving the whole conversation about advance care planning and POLST forward in California for many years. They have organized community coalitions across the state and regularly deliver face-to-face training to health professionals to improve everyone’s knowledge about these vital topics. See their impressive list of Training & Events at their website.

In addition, to support the introduction of the new POLST form, the Institute has partnered with the Coalition to offer a new online, Working With POLST, self-paced program.

As fall approaches, it is a great time to think about getting up-to-date on advance care planning, vital conversations, and POLST (and you can earn CEUs!). Start with your advance directive documents … if you are uncertain about forms, go to the Coalition’s website.

Coalition for Compassionate Care logo

Next, get up to speed on how to help others! Whether you do it at one of the Coalition’s courses or take our online program, make this fall your time for learning about advance care planning and the new POLST form.

While you do this, take a moment and join the Coalition … it is only a nominal membership fee and you get access to an array of resources.  More importantly, you will be helping the Coalition spread the word about the importance of advance care planning for all Californians … and that is helping advance palliative care!


Helen McNeal's signature

Helen McNeal
Executive Director

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