Two months until National Healthcare Decisions Day in the U.S.

Categories: Community Engagement.

As we get closer to our NHDD celebration, here are some tips from the NHDD team:

  • Take advantage of a great educational webinar:
    • On February 21st at 3pm ET, The Conversation Project will host a webinar that will focus on helping you prepare to participate in NHDD this year. Click here for connection information.
  • Be flexible and do what works for you.  Daily sub-themes are below-don’t feel you need activities every day, but the daily themes may help for inspiration:
    • Monday (4/16): NHDD/Prepare
      • Host your main event, since it’s NHDD!
      • Or us it as a day to get resources together
    • Tuesday (4/17): Start with Yourself
      • A day to think about your own healthcare decisions
    • Wednesday (4/18): Family/Friends/Loved Ones
      • A day to discuss your wishes with others (and learn their wishes)
    • Thursday (4/19): Spread the Word
      • A day to tell others that you’ve engaged in advance care planning and encourage them to do the same
    • Friday (4/20): Facilities Focus
      • A day for healthcare providers of all sorts to promote advance care planning
    • Saturday (4/21): Professionals Preparedness
      • A day to ensure that all professionals (healthcare, clergy, legal, and others) understand and can promote advance care planning
    • Sunday (4/22): Reflection and Readiness
      • Consider what worked well for NHDD week and file/share your advance care plans so they will be available if needed 
  • Lead by example.  When talking about or presenting about advance care planning, share your own story if you can.  You don’t need to share the specific choices that you have made, but explaining honestly and openly how you engaged in the process can go a long way to inspire others.
  • Make advance care planning interdisciplinary.  The most effective presentations on advance care planning involve a variety of disciplines, all which can lend a different perspective and all of which can re-enforce the importance of the process. 
  • Make the discussion intergenerational.  Advance care planning is not just for older adults.  Remember that Terry Schiavo, Nancy Cruzan, and Karen Ann Quinlan, were all in their twenties when their health crises occurred.  Indeed, the very best advance care planning involves multiple generations. 
  • Find collaborators.  NHDD offers a great venue for improving relationships within a community.  For example, it’s a perfect opportunity for the staff at hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices to come together to discuss how to improve referrals and transfers during those times when advance care plans are being implemented.
  • Include your family and friends.  One of the best ways to encourage others to engage in advance care planning is to normalize the process, which begins with expanding the audience and taking the discussion outside of healthcare facilities and lawyers’ offices.  Social media is a great way to do this (see below). 
  • Get out in the community.  Some of the most effective NHDD events have been held at libraries, churches, schools, and, even, banks. The faith community is particularly important; please encourage sermons, discussion groups, and other activities to foster advance care planning and to discuss how faith plays a role in personal health and in caring for others.
  • Reach out to the media.  Tell your media contacts what you’re doing and encourage them to write a feature about advance care planning and your activities.  Tell the media an advance care planning success story or about a situation that could have been improved with advance care planning; help the media understand why this is so important. Here’s a link to the media FAQ document in case it is helpful: .  Other media resources are available at:
  • Educate providers about the Medicare reimbursement for advance care planning conversations.  While you are at it, educate patients as well. This was a huge change, but it appears to remain underused. 
  • Follow up on the Dying in America Recommendation.  The 2014 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report Dying in America remains timely and confirms that we’ve got a lot of work to do with respect to advance care planning in the US.  To be sure, the IOM identified the following as one of its five core recommendations:

“Civic leaders, public health and other governmental agencies, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, consumer groups, health care delivery organizations, payers, employers, and professional societies should engage their constituents and provide fact-based information about care of people with advanced serious illness to encourage advance care planning and informed choice based on the needs and values of individuals.”

  • Map NHDD!  We’ve added a new feature to the website: a map to show where our participants are.  We are not automatically populating the map with our existing distribution list in the event you don’t want to be identified, but I’m hoping that you will take a few moments to reiterate your commitment to NHDD and add a pin to the map:  NOTE: the map updates only every 24 hours, so your pin will not show immediately.

As you all know, everyone wins when advance care planning is fostered early and when it is implemented by the entire care team.  

In addition to the above, please use the various resource on the website:  We’ve got all sort of links for resources, draft recruitment, press releases, and other resources.  And, please keep using and sharing the videos on the homepage.

To help us continue to grow, please see if you can recruit just one new participant.  That’s all, just one.  YOU CAN DO IT!  You can let others know that confirming participation takes only a moment by clicking here:  We’re looking for more participants of all kinds: national, state, and local organizations.  Please also encourage participation by those in non-healthcare settings such as civic/business organizations, religious organizations, and educational institutions.

Once again, please recognize that social media is powerful, and it is a great way to get NHDD to your friends and loved ones.  Share what you plan to do for NHDD.  Please:

    • Like us on Facebook and add to the discussion: 
    • Follow us on Twitter and tweet about #NHDD yourself:!/nhdd  (@NHDD).  Here are some sample tweets to get things going:
      • I am advocating for #NHDD, April 16, to encourage Americans to consider, discuss, and document their advance healthcare wishes.
      • #NHDD, April 16, encourages Americans to consider, discuss, and document their advance healthcare wishes so they are honored in the future.
      • National Healthcare Decisions Day (#NHDD) is April 16. Consider, discuss, and document your advance healthcare wishes! @NHDD

REMEMBER THAT WE GOT #NHDD to “trend” on Twitter in 2015.  Let’s see if we can do it again!

As you plan your events, don’t forget to review your own website.  Are your advance care planning resources up to date?  Do you have a link to  (which has free resources for the public for all 50 states)?

As always, please bear in mind that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel; rolling out or calling attention to existing resources is fine.  Please do so with the public and staff/colleagues/members of your organization.   

Finally, please help us continue our work by making a donation to support NHDD.  It’s easy to donate by clicking:  

Thanks to all those organizations who will be reaching out to their communities the week of April 16.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *