Too many Americans spend the last days of their lives in a way they would never choose. Silence on end-of-life preferences is a contributing factor. For example, in a survey conducted by the California Health foundation, 60 percent of people in that state said that making sure their family is not burdened by tough end-of-life decisions is “extremely important.” Yet, more than half of those surveyed had not communicated their wishes to anyone.
The Conversation Project was formed to ensure that everyone’s end-of-life wishes are expressed and respected. The Conversation Project will drive the social movement and provide tools and resources to encourage people to express their wishes, but it will be up to health care organizations to be ready to receive and respect those preferences — they need the people and processes to hear and respect what’s being said.
At the very basic level, many health care organizations have nothing in place to prompt discussions with patients and families about health care directives or end-of-life wishes, or to record, access, and follow the instructions.
To that end, a group of pioneer sponsors, along with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, are committed to ensuring their organizations are “Conversation Ready” within one year by developing and piloting processes to create these systems within health care, to reframe patient-provider relationships around the question “What matters most to you?” and, in some instances, to break the silence between patient and provider. They are packaging proven methods and programs with new tools and strategies to develop a “Conversation Ready” change package that they will implement first in their own organizations and then will be shared throughout the industry.
The Pioneer Sponsors
- Gundersen Health System (Wisconsin) — leader in advanced care planning