National Healthcare Decisions Day

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Founded in 2008 by Nathan Kottamp, National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) exists to educate and empower healthcare providers and the public to take part in advance care planning. This can be an uncomfortable conversation to have with yourself and family members but is beneficial in the future for yourself and your loved ones, who otherwise may be left speculating what your wishes might be. That is why the NHDD has dedicated this day to stress the importance of Advanced Directives.

Advanced Directives

Advanced Directives are legal documents that provide written instructions about who makes medical decisions for you and your end-of-life wishes if you are unable to speak for yourself. There are three types of Advanced Directives under Florida Law.

  • Designation of Health Care Surrogate – identification of whom you trust to receive information and make health care decisions for you.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – designation of an attorney-in-fact to make health care decisions for you. The documentation needed for this requires a notary in addition to two witnesses. This can include only medical decisions, financial decisions, or both.
  • Living Will – Used to convey your end-of-life wishes pertaining to what medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive as well as other medical decisions such as pain management or organ donation.

When Are They Used?

  • Health Care Surrogate – The authority of your health care surrogate could begin immediately without waiting for a physician determining an inability to make your own health care decisions IF you made that selection on the form. This form allows your health care surrogate to participate in decision-making on your behalf.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – Similar to Health Care Surrogate, a Durable Power of Attorney is authorized to make decisions on your behalf which can also include financial. That is how the two differ. A Health Care Surrogate will ONLY make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Living Will – Used when two physicians independently determine you have an end-stage, terminal, or vegetative condition that causes the unlikeliness that you’ll regain the ability to make your own health care decisions.

Ways To Recognize the Day

  • Donate to Institute for Health Improvement
  • Encourage family and friends to complete advance directives
  • Share your story on social media with #HealthcareDecisionsDay
  • Learn more about advance directives from local elder attorneys, physicians, clinics, etc.
  • Invite a local elder attorney to your place of work to present information concerning advance directives

Local Resources

It is important to know that creating advance directives does NOT require a cost or attorney. BUT if you are uncomfortable with doing the process yourself and prefer to reach out to a professional, try these local resources:

  • The Karp Law Firm – Serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach, Okeechobee
  • The Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm, P.L. – Serving the Treasure Coast
  • William A. Johnson, P.A. – Serving Brevard County
  • Flammia Elder Law Firm – Serving Orange County
  • Burzynski Elder Law – Serving Collier County
  • Beth A. Prather, P.A. – Serving Lee County
  • Howell Law Firm – Serving Charlotte County

Our Relationship with Advance Directives

Here at VIP, we strongly encourage you to have advance directives in place. We are in constant communication with your elder attorney, and/or your primary physician regarding your wishes provided within advance directives. If your elder attorney or physician calls us to refer an in-home caregiver to you, we will request information from them pertaining to your documented wishes. Durable Power of Attorney plays an important role in this.

If you have designated a Power of Attorney to assume responsibility for your legal documents, finances, or medical decisions, they can be our primary contact for anything and everything if those are your wishes. It’s important to know that your advance directives are NOT sacrificing your right to make decisions for yourself while you are able to. These are mainly exercised beginning at a time when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. Do NOT hesitate to prepare advance directives because you fear you are immediately signing away your right to live your life. That is simply not the case.

Don’t be afraid to lean on your designated Power of Attorney to alleviate the stress that you may be experiencing concerning your home care needs and the process involved with starting and maintaining care. If you are deemed fit to still make your own decisions and prefer to be the primary contact regarding your in-home care needs, then we will respect your wishes and always communicate with you concerning any comments, questions or concerns you may have.