National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is represented annually in April and is an initiative created to inspire, educate, and empower the public about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD was designed to encourage someone to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever those wishes might be.
The pandemic has been a reminder that healthcare affects everyone of all ages. It impacts that patient, the person’s family, and the facility taking care of the person. The focus on advance care planning has been highlighted through these unique times.
Advanced care planning includes completing an advance directive (living will), appointing a healthcare power of attorney (someone to make healthcare decisions if the person can not speak for themselves), and the person sharing their choices with their family and loved ones.
Another aspect of advanced care planning is Psychiatric Advanced Directives (PADs). PADs are legal documents detailing a person’s preference for future mental health treatment, including specific choices about medications and hospitalizations and the refusal of consent to either. PADs help the person identify an individual to make treatment decisions if that person is in a crisis and unable to make decisions. In NC, PADs are also known as an “Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment .”An Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment remains valid until the person who created it revokes it.
There are numerous benefits to having and completing advanced care directives, including enabling proper care and possibly preventing involuntary treatment. When families are informed, and up to date on a person’s advanced care directives, the family can better advocate for their loved ones.