Healthcare Decisions Day Marked

NASW is joining in national, statewide and local efforts to promote the second annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), April 16.

Since social workers are advocates for health care planning and are an excellent resource for people who are unclear or unsure about benefits of advance planning, NASW is proud to once again take part in encouraging members to create a heightened sense of awareness among Americans to make advance health care decisions, said NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.

"Advance care needs may include financial, health, future or long-term residential plans," Clark said. "Social workers can work with individuals considering advance health care options to explore goals and values that will guide a person's decision-making process. Letting your family know your wishes ahead of time is a gift you can give your family."

The NHDD initiative is a collaborative effort among national, state and community organizations committed to ensuring that all adults with decision-making capacity in the U.S. have the information and opportunity to communicate and document their health care decisions.

Last year's NHDD proved to be a great start to the tradition. Both houses of Congress as well as several states and local jurisdictions formally recognized the event. There were 76 national organizations and 391 state and local organizations who participated.

Although several states have engaged in advance directives awareness events and numerous organizations have devoted substantial time and money to improving education about advance health care planning, only a small minority of Americans have executed an advance directive, according to organizers.

Social workers who want to join in the making this year's NHDD a success can visit the NHDD Website. There, visitors can find materials for organizations as well as tips on how advocates can raise awareness in their communities. In addition to signing up organizations to participate, there are other ways social workers can help promote this important cause, according to NHDD organizers:

  • Lead by example. Be sure you have thoughtfully considered and made your own healthcare decisions known.
  • Make sure everyone in your organization is informed about NHDD (including staff, board of directors, volunteers and others) and ask for their involvement to promote NHDD in the community, such as by having staff wear a button that says "Ask me about advance directives!"
  • Provide a link on your organizational Website to National Healthcare Decisions Day, which features a variety of information for the public and providers on advance care planning.
  • Set up an exhibit about NHDD at your main entrance and offer information about advance care planning as people come by.
  • Partner with your community library to set up a display highlighting books about advance healthcare decision-making and use NHDD promotional resources.
  • Partner with local retail businesses by asking them to place a promotional flyer about NHDD in every bag.
  • Distribute flyers about NHDD in local health and mental healh provider offices and other strategic locations such as elevators in public buildings.
  • Encourage your state leaders to establish a state-sanctioned, secure on-line advance directive registry.
  • Contact local media (newspapers, TV, and radio) and encourage them to write a piece about NHDD and advance health care planning.