Death is an inevitable part of life - but the way you spend your last days, weeks and months may not be entirely out of your control. A group of concerned Nebraskans is working to educate, advocate for and empower others in the state to engage in conversation about advance care planning through a new project, called It's All About the Conversation.
"There are a number of interesting features about the state of Nebraska that have an impact on how death and dying occur here," explains Helen Chapple, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor in the Creighton University Center for Health Policy and Ethics. "We want all Nebraskans to have the best, most meaningful and positive dying experience they can."
To help facilitate this conversation, the interdisciplinary team developed an informational website, ItsAllAboutTheConversation.org, where Nebraskans can find answers to frequently asked questions, related articles and informational videos, as well as templates for advance directives and other end of life documents. The website also includes tools for clinicians; although Chapple sees advance care planning for patients as part of the issue at hand, the group is working to equip providers with the appropriate tools and training to be able to respect patients' wishes.
"We intend to discover the obstacles to achieving excellent care for dying patients in the state of Nebraska, whether that be the lack of opportunity to discuss one's goals for care as conditions change or an inconsistency in the ability of health care providers to respect those preferences when they are articulated," Chapple says on the website.
It's All About the Conversation is also utilizing a small grant to investigate the impact of advance directives on the quality of dying and gathering information about legislation and regulations that may affect end of life care in Nebraska and surrounding states. The group is planning to explore what Nebraskans have to say about their care at upcoming World Café Dialogues and at a booth at the 2013 Nebraska State Fair.
It's All About the Conversation is an inclusive group of clinicians, clergy, health care professionals, hospice and palliative care organizations, state employees and community members interested in improving end of life conditions through conversation. To learn more about this work or to become involved, visit ItsAllAboutTheConversation.org.