LIFE MATTERS MEDIA STAFF
Life Matters Media Co-Founder and President Randi Belisomo encouraged Chicagoans to “start the conversation” by considering their own end of life care wishes and making them known to loved ones.
On National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16, Belisomo addressed an audience gathered at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with Patrick Briggs, a former NMH program manager, about the importance of advance health care planning and open, honest communication between patients and their loved ones.
“As much as we want to, or expect to be in control of the decisions about our own care, there are too many factors that work against the realization of this desire,” said Belisomo, a Respecting Choices First Steps certified advance care planning facilitator and instructor. “We all have a stake in improving the end of life care of our communities.”
Respecting Choices is a nationally respected, person-centered process of communication that facilitates individuals’ understanding, reflection and discussion of their goals, values and preferences for future health care decisions. It was developed by Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis.
Belisomo highlighted some troubling statistics: although 90 perent of Americans say it is important to have end of life conversations with their loved ones, less than one-third have had such conversations. Seventy percent of Americans say they prefer to live their last days at home, yet 70 percent spend their final moments in a hospital or medical facility.
To help ensure future health care wishes are honored, Belisomo suggested attendees create a “quality of care plan,” in which they learn to accept their own mortality, discuss goals of care and infuse that conversation with their own beliefs and values.
“We talk a lot about end of life issues… but ideally, when we discuss those issues, we’re talking about living the best life on your terms, until you’re not living anymore,” Belisomo added. “It’s important to think about what you want the end of your life to look like. What gives our lives meaning?”
Taking cues from Respecting Choices, Belisomo assisted Briggs, 70, with “the conversation” in front of the live audience of patients, caregivers and doctors.
(“The Conversation” begins at 24:00)