Honoring Last Wishes through Awareness, Education and Action–Blog by Karen Peterson, Executive Director, Honoring Choices Minnesota

Honoring Last Wishes through Awareness, Education and Action–Blog by Karen Peterson, Executive Director, Honoring Choices Minnesota

HCM LogoHonoring Choices Minnesota exists to ease and enable conversations about Advance Care Planning (ACP). While it’s not an easy topic to consider, it is important for every adult to have a Health Care Directive — a written plan for loved ones and health care providers to follow — so that patients’ wishes are known if a time comes when they cannot speak for themselves.

People are full of good intentions–but don’t always do the work

Data tell us people have good intentions when it comes to ACP, but we have lots of work ahead to make last wishes realities:

  • 90% of people say talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27% have done so.
  • 82% of people say it’s important to put their wishes about end-of-life care in writing, but in Minnesota, only 35% have done so.
  • 80% of people say that if they were seriously ill, they would want to talk with their doctors about end-of-life care, but only 7% have had that conversation.

“While we were hoping to encourage employees and their families to consider an Advanced Care Directive Pledge, we realized this was not an easy conversation to start. It’s one that takes careful planning, conversations, and thoughtfulness. With Honoring Choices Minnesota we had the opportunity to engage with a non-profit partner with deep expertise and a supportive philosophy to build trust with our employees. It was important that the University find an avenue to support this important life decision independent of the University as an employer, and to provide an incentive for employees to engage Honoring Choices on their own.”

Ken Horstman
Senior Director, Total Compensation
University of Minnesota

A recent development we are really excited about is that we are beginning to see Minnesota employers take the lead when it comes to promoting ACP. Some are even offering incentives to employees who complete Health Care Directives.

U of M encourages employees to take Advance Care Directive Pledge

As one example, we have the honor of working with the University of Minnesota to add ACP to the Employee Wellness Program, which awards 50 wellness points to those who take the Advance Care Directive Pledge.

When the 50-point Wellness Option was launched in November 2016, Honoring Choices staff members were on hand to make presentations, answer questions, and hand out forms and other information. We visited Employee Health and Benefits Fairs on the Duluth, Morris, and both Twin Cities campuses, and will be giving additional departmental presentations when invited by Wellness Program Advocates. I am pleased to report that in the first month alone, nearly 700 people signed up!

Learn more about adding ACP to your wellness program

If your organization would like to learn more about adding advance care planning to your wellness program, check out The Action Group’s employer toolkit here, or contact me for assistance ([email protected]). As employers become more united about promoting ACP, we hope to make great strides in breaking down barriers to having personal and important discussions about last wishes and dramatically increasing the number of Minnesotans who have Health Care Directives in place.

Recommended reading and learning opportunities:

Karen Peterson is the Executive Director of Honoring Choices Minnesota