There’s a cover article in today’s LNP – Always Lancaster that takes a look at the topic of end-of-life conversations. The article contains interviews with Meghan MacNamara, who “has battled multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that can lead to respiratory and circulatory problems, and shorten her life span”, a local physician and several others.
The article reports “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began reimbursing doctors for time spent on end-of-life counseling for seniors — a move insurers likely will follow for patients of all ages. But few physicians are making advance care planning part of routine treatment.”
An October, 2015 Wall Street Journal article said health-care providers will be reimbursed “if they choose to have conversations with Medicare patients about advance care planning—also known as end-of-life discussions.”
Yet the topic of death discussion is so difficult for so many; in May and June, the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources partners’ networks in Lancaster and Lebanon counties co-hosted Death Cafés at the Manheim Township Public Library and the Lebanon Community Library to explore end-of-life conversation in a non-directed manner.
“(Meghan) MacNamara attended the first Death Cafe held in Lancaster, a cookies-and-conversation event planned by the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources.” – LNP – Always Lancaster.
People who attended each of the Death Cafés engaged stimulating, questioning and supportive conversations – overwhelmingly, they reported they liked the Death Café experience – several asked “when will the next one be held?”
NOTE: Due to the enthusiastic responses, which included offers to volunteer, from email followup surveys, the partners’ networks are now planning follow-up Death Cafés as early as September, 2016.
Jennifer Wagner, Penn Medicine | Lancaster General Health, has been invited to facilitate cross-trainings entitled, “Your Life. Your Wishes.™ – Advance Care Planning” at Link partners’ networks cross-training meetings in Lancaster County, in June, and Lebanon County, on July 1.
Her presentation reinforced the critical nature of advance care planning – “Advance care planning is not about your age or overall health. It’s about being ready for whatever comes your way. Every adult should have an advance care plan, no matter his or her age. After talking with your loved ones about what you would want, it’s time to express your wishes in writing.”