Posted April 14, 2022 by Steve Chrzanowski, Director, Group Retention & Sales Support
A sudden heart attack, stroke or car accident aren’t things you can plan for because it’s impossible to know if or when they will happen. But they do happen and can leave people incapacitated and unable to participate in important decisions related to their medical care. That’s why National Healthcare Decisions Day, a nationwide initiative held each year on April 16, encourages people to take the time to put their wishes in writing in the event of a medical emergency.
As the lifeblood of your business, your employees’ welfare is essential to the health of your company. Advance care planning spells out what measures a person does or doesn’t want taken when they can’t speak for themselves. And, additionally, who they want to make those decisions for them. By offering advance care planning resources, you are demonstrating your commitment to your employees’ wellbeing and the peace of mind that comes with unburdening their loved ones during extreme circumstances. In practical terms, advanced care planning can help shield them and their family from costly and unwanted medical interventions. It also safeguards your company’s group medical plan from unneeded expenses.
What is An Advance Directive?
The two most common types of advance directives are the living will and durable healthcare power of attorney. Living wills spell out a person’s healthcare wishes when they are unconscious, unable to speak or are mentally incapacitated. They also help medical providers and family know what treatments a person finds acceptable and which ones they don’t. For example, it can be documented in a living will whether someone wants life-sustaining procedures, like life support or a feeding tube, as well as their preferences for pain management or pastoral care.
A healthcare durable power of attorney assigns an agent (usually a close friend or family member) to carry out the medical wishes in a living will. Choosing the right person is crucial because they must be trusted to adhere to your requests and be comfortable advocating for you if there’s a disagreement about your care.
Advance directives never expire and can be updated at any time. While an attorney is not required to create advance directives, using one can be beneficial to ensure legal requirements are met (which vary by state).
How to Offer Advance Care Planning in the Workplace
One of the easiest ways to create awareness among employees about advance care planning is to internally promote National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16. If you can, also offer opportunities for completing advance directives. Some ideas include:
Outside of April 16, consider including advance care planning resources in benefits packages and at employee orientations. Add living will and durable power of attorney templates to the employee benefits section of your website or link to them through your state bar association.
Visit nhdd.org for more ideas on how to engage your employees on this important topic.