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Staff Complete Advance Directives for Helen McNeal’s Birthday

By Helen McNeal, Executive Director of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care

When it comes to doing our advance directive and having crucial conversations with those we love, I think what gets in the way is … life! Too many other things to do … too many other priorities. Look at how long it has taken me (almost 6 weeks!) to get back to you and share how my advance care planning challenge to the Institute staff ended.

As you may remember, at our April staff meeting, I asked the Institute staff how many had completed an advance directive. The answer was less than 20% and I was shocked. So I challenged them to give me a very special birthday present … and complete their advance directive and have the conversation with their loved ones.

By May 1…

As this picture illustrates … by May 1, 100% had completed them!

Helen McNeal Advance Directive Success

I don’t believe that they did it for me or because it was my birthday. I believe that they did it because I asked them and I gave them a deadline. (And, no one wanted to be the one to let the team down in achieving 100%!)

Deadlines Help!

In the press of life, deadlines help. That’s why so many advance directives get done when someone is seriously ill or dying … there is a serious deadline. But, even less serious deadlines (and a bit of competitive spirit!) make a difference.

So to all of you colleagues and friends of the Institute, I repeat my challenge … challenge your team to go for 100% completion on advance directives and having THE conversation with those they love. And, give them a deadline!

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