Memorial Healthcare System Highlights Patient and Family Support During Hospital and Palliative Care Month

November 03, 2023

wife and husband smiling at nurse in hospital room

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month and Memorial Healthcare System is urging families to have conversations that lead to Advance Care Planning (ACP), which involves discussing and preparing for future decisions about a person’s medical care if they become seriously ill or unable to communicate their wishes.

On November 3rd, Memorial is joining a national social media action day to promote “courageous conversations.” The dialogue around end-of-life care can be a difficult one, but the team at Memorial wants to foster these necessary conversations by increasing awareness of available options and avenues families can explore ahead of time. This in turn will make their loved ones, should they require these services, as comfortable as possible.

According to a 2021 study in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 90 percent of people think it is important to talk about end-of-life wishes with their loved ones, but only 27 percent have done so. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is making a big push this month to provide valuable resources to those with family members entering or already in the Palliative Care stage of their life. Memorial will be amplifying their efforts within their own healthcare system.

“Palliative care conversations are often filled with emotion and are difficult for families. We want to help our families have these necessary conversations, especially in advance of entering a crisis, says Kim Almonte, chief nursing officer of Ambulatory Services and System Operations at Memorial. "These difficult and courageous conversations can help to understand how a loved one would want to be provided medical care", she says.

There are some key tips to help families think about and engage in these courageous conversations.

  1. Think about what matters most during this time and what the support system will look like. Choose one person to make healthcare decisions.
  2. Map out your conversation, whether it’s as, or on behalf of, the patient. Pinpoint concerns and questions about treatments and medical decisions, should a crisis occur.
  3. Have the conversation. Decide who is involved and what decisions need to be made. Prioritize what matters most.
  4. Keep the dialogue ongoing for everyone's well-being. Relationships and preferences may change over time.

Once you’ve discussed creating a plan, make sure you take care of logistics and documents such as a health care proxy and a living will.

For medical professionals looking for more information on NHPCO resources, you can visit their site.

These difficult and courageous conversations can help to understand how a loved one would want to be provided medical care.