IHS Recognizes Advanced Care Planning Initiative

Your Care, Your Choices, the advanced care planning initiative created by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Southcentral Foundation, was awarded an Indian Health Services Director’s Award for 2017. A team of 39 professionals, with representatives from the medical as well as business side of both ANTHC and SCF, developed this unique program.

“This initiative was a joint effort between ANTHC’s Palliative Care Team, led by Dr. Christopher Piromalli, and Southcentral Foundation’s Primary Care department, said Jerry Markus, an improvement advisor for SCF and a project lead. “The advanced care planning materials and training that were developed were the first of their kind to approach the topic of health care wishes in the event of serious illness and/or injury from an Alaska Native/American Indian perspective.”

A Palliative Care Program, created in October 2015, formed partnerships with clinics and programs that supported the medical relief of pain and stress of a serious illness. As the program developed, it became apparent there was a need for communication tools to open the conversation between provider and customer-owner related to advanced directives. The tools needed to be culturally sensitive while also helping providers breech these difficult topics. The Your Care, Your Choices conversation guide did just that by using storytelling and culturally relevant imagery to explain the importance of advanced directives.

In addition to the conversation guide, brochures, digital lobby displays, a website, and other communication tools were used to get the word out about this important topic. These tools were adapted to communicate to customer-owners of any age, as it was determined that everyone should have an advanced care plan on file. Online learning modules were created for providers and care staff. These modules help teach the appropriate approach and conversation tools to remain culturally sensitive.

A pilot testing of materials with customer-owners and various focus groups helped refine the message. Partnering with those customers who would be the ones completing the advanced care planning was a critical component of the project. The final product was released in the winter of 2017 and has already been requested internationally by both American Indian and Aboriginal health care organizations.

Congratulations to the Advanced Care Planning team on their award and thank you to the customer-owners for their help in making a successful program.

Don’t miss the second part of this article, discussing how relationships between organizations led to this success, coming in the next edition of the ANN.

For more information on advanced care planning, talk with your primary care provider, or visit www.anthc.org/palliative-care.

by Amanda Cantrell

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