Stuart Hamilton, Robin Gunderson and Abby Leonard
Health Care Decisions
On Tuesday April 23rd a group of interested community members gathered at the Sudbury Senior Center to hear from a panel of Parmenter representatives about Advanced Care Planning. The panel was introduced by Phyllis Schilp, Parmenters’ Board of Health Nurse for the town of Sudbury. President of the Parmenter Foundation Board and estate planning attorney Stewart Hamilton, of Sudbury, shared an overview of the Massachusetts law, in particular the importance of naming a health care agent, and an alternate, through a Health Care Proxy. In Massachusetts, residents can choose a Health Care Agent to speak for them should there ever be a time when they are unable to make decisions or communicate their wishes for care. Hamilton shared, “You never want to surprise someone that you’ve named them as your health care agent, so be sure to let them know and share your wishes for care.”
Robin Gunderson, the Parmenter Foundation’s Advance Care Planning Facilitator and Instructor spoke about the benefits of planning ahead, presented an overview of Parmenter’s new initiative and shared the Five Wishes document, a tool for thinking about, writing down and sharing wishes for care. “Five Wishes” includes: My Wish for: The Person I want to Make Care Decision for Me When I Can’t, The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want, How Comfortable I Want to Be, How I Want People to Treat Me, What I Want My Loved Ones to Know.
Gunderson described Advance Care Planning as a process and encouraged participants to gain an understanding of care options, take time for quiet reflection, engage in intimate conversations, and then make choices about the type of care they would want or wish not to receive. Referencing research through the Respecting Choices advance care planning program at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center of La Crosse, WI, Gunderson stated that when the advance care planning process is undertaken and results in a written plan, one that is shared with loved ones and healthcare providers, choices for care are more likely to be honored, stress is reduced and, ultimately, health care is delivered more effectively.
Abbey Leonard, RN and Parmenter’s Hospice Manager, spoke about the unique care Hospice provides to patients and their families in their home, in facilities, or at the Parlin House, Parmenter’s hospice residence located in Wayland. Leonard also spoke about Parmenter’s bereavement services for adults, teens and children, all of which are offered without charge to participants. Parmenter has recently partnered with the Moyer Foundation to offer a summer camp for children and youth. The camp is made possible through the community support of volunteers and financial gifts. Learn more about how to help at parmenter.org.
The panel presentation concluded with a question and answer period. “These conversations can be difficult to start, but when they are undertaken, often people are eager to learn more because they want to have a voice in their health care,” said Cindy Mayher, Executive Director of the Parmenter Foundation. The “Five Wishes” documents are available at no charge at Parmenter’s office at 266 Cochituate Road, Wayland or at the Parmenter Foundation office located at 400 Boston Post Road, Sudbury.
Documents may be completed at no cost, or residents may want to consult with an attorney. Parmenter does not provide legal advice.
Parmenter Community Health Care, an independent, non-profit health care agency providing visiting nurse services, rehabilitation care, palliative care, hospice care and community services for the Metrowest area. www.Parmenter.org