Why It Matters
We can learn from organizations that are checking taboos at the door and effectively bringing end-of-life care conversations to work.
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Bringing End-of-Life Care Conversations to Work

By Zack Rubin | Thursday, September 1, 2016

Several companies are joining a nationwide movement to create a cultural shift in the way people think about how we want to live at the end of our lives. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dow Chemical, Goodyear Tire, Tufts Health Plan, and Fidelity Investments are working with The Conversation Project to encourage employees, retirees, and clients to have open and honest end-of-life care discussions with family and friends at home, before a health crisis occurs, and the discussion takes place in the intensive care unit.

These businesses are role models. They are checking taboos at the door and effectively bringing end-of-life care conversations to work.

Currently, more than 65 million people — or roughly 30 percent of the US population — are providing 20 hours of care for the chronically ill, disabled, or aging family members in a given year, according to The National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP. Roughly 73 percent of caregivers are working full- or part-time and are juggling the demands of those caregiving demands along with work, home, and family.

“We recognize that many of our employees may have to balance caring for a parent or loved one with work demands. We want to provide resources and tools that will have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of their families,” says Dr. Cathy Baase, Global Director of Health Services at The Dow Chemical Company. “If we can help employees be less stressed, more comforted and at peace, then that leads to less distraction and a break from worry. It’s a win for everyone – the company and our staff.”

The chief medical officers at these national brands understand that half of their workforce is at the stage of life when caring for aging parents is common. By working with The Conversation Project and sharing our tools and resources with associates, the goal is to help alleviate some of the stress and worry brought on by these potential daily life challenges. These national businesses and institutions have begun hosting workshops on how to have end-of-life care conversations and begun distributing the Conversation Starter Kit to employees to launch this important initiative within their work place.

“Despite the belief of many companies, end-of-life care is not just a private family matter,” says Dr. Pawlecki, chief health officer at Goodyear Rubber & Tire. ”Recognizing the impact these issues have on associates, their success and productivity is a core workplace issue. It affects a far greater number of employees than has been appreciated.”

Last April, Goodyear delivered health and wellness toolkits to more than 24,000 associates and retirees in the United States as a part of its Goodlife initiative which featured the Conversation Starter Kit.

If your business or place of work is interested in partnering with The Conversation Project and bringing our tools to your company’s existing roster of resources we’d love to hear to hear from you. Please email conversationproject@IHI.org.

Zack Rubin is Project Coordinator for The Conversation Project. This post originally appeared on The Conversation Project blog.


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