When you think about teamwork, what comes to mind?
Working together toward a shared vision.
Keeping communication open and honest.
Having leadership and guidance to know what to do.
We don’t always think about our health as involving teamwork, but it does! We need those near and dear to us, who are present during our appointments, and who care for us at home when we’re not well. We need different healthcare providers with their own expertise that informs what care we receive. This teamwork requires us to communicate and coordinate with many different people.
But what happens when we can’t speak for ourselves? Someone else has to lead the talking, coordinating and decision-making. If that happens, our team needs to carry on without our direction, based on their best guesses of what they think we want and need.
That’s where advance care planning comes in—the process of reflecting on and discussing our wishes for care with our team before that day comes when we can’t tell them what we want. It also involves deciding on someone who will take the lead in making decisions for us if we can’t speak for ourselves—our Substitute Decision Maker. Like any good team, it’s about strong communication and planning to get everyone on the same page ahead of time.
The question is: who is on your team and what vision for your care do you want to share with them?
This April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day, the perfect time to assemble your team and tell them your plan. Every team has a plan that provides direction—sport teams have their playbooks, choirs have their sheet music, organizations have their workplans.
And every team needs to have the huddle, the muddle, then the cuddle.
The huddle: talking openly, planning, and coming to a shared understanding.
The muddle: facing complex situations and unexpected challenges, debating different options, and making tough decisions.
And the cuddle: checking in, reflecting on the muddle, and supporting each other on the decisions made.
Advance care planning is the huddle, the pep-talks a team should have before something happens and decisions need to be made. Prior to the muddle, your team needs to know your wishes and who will be your Substitute Decision Maker.
Take the opportunity during National Advance Care Planning Day on April 16th to have the huddle with your team, to prepare them for the muddle and the cuddle. There’s even a website (www.advancecareplanning.ca) with free, downloadable resources for advance care planning, including workbooks, videos, wallet cards and conversation starters. The website is run by the Advance Care Planning in Canada “Speak Up” initiative, dedicated to helping all Canadians start planning for their future care. You can find information about the different provincial/territorial legal requirements for advance care planning and designating Substitute Decision Makers. There are also toolkits available for healthcare organizations and health professionals who wish to mark National Advance Care Planning Day with an event or activity.
Please share stories of any team huddles you have had; use the hashtags #TeamSupport and #ACPDay2018 on social media.