What And When Is National Healthcare Decisions Day 2021?

Contributing writer, former long-term care admissions counselor and social worker

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There’s a day for everything under the sun. You’ll find some bizarre ones, like National Chopsticks Day and National Cherry Pie Day. But National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is one of the most important, and it’s celebrated each year to shed light on the importance of advanced care planning.

Jump ahead to these sections:

Advanced care planning involves documenting and deciding your wishes in case you become too sick or unable to make your wishes known in the future. 

Healthcare decisions are not easy to talk about and can range from palliative care and hospice to the type of funeral you’d like. The best way to be prepared is to start end-of-life planning early. 

When is National Healthcare Decisions Day and Month? 

Each year, National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) falls on the same day in April — April 16. 

The Conversation Project is the initiative that spearheads National Healthcare Decisions Day. The project involves a team of people passionate about end-of-life planning conversations. The Conversation Project only nationally recognizes the day but the entire month of April is often used to celebrate Healthcare Decisions Month. 

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What is National Healthcare Decisions Day and Month?

National Healthcare Decisions Day is recognized nationally, but some companies, hospitals, and providers choose to go a step further and celebrate the entire month of April. 

National Healthcare Decisions Month sheds light on the importance of education and empowerment for patients and medical professionals in advanced care planning. This celebration puts the spotlight on what advanced directives are, how to create them, and their significance. 

Not all organizations dedicate the month of April to this movement, but when they do, the impact can be much greater. These sites offer resources 24/7:

  • Arizona Hospital offers various ways to make advanced care planning decisions and offers activities and events throughout the month. 
  • Kokua Mau celebrates the month of April to call attention to healthcare decisions. You can find information on topics including hospice, palliative care, end-of-life care, and advanced care planning. 
  • Minuteman Senior Services raises awareness and encourages healthcare decisions in April to emphasize the importance of advanced care planning. The website introduces the month of April as Healthcare Decisions Month.

History

A healthcare lawyer, Nathan Kottkamp, founded National Healthcare Decisions Day in 2008. He felt the importance of providing clear, concise, consistent information about healthcare decisions for free through easy-to-use, uniform tools to providers, services, and the public. 

The Conversation Project was created by a group of professionals, family members, educators, and others in 2010. In 2016, it was only fitting for the project to take over NHDD. The Conversation Project took over the management of finances and structure of the day in 2016 and keeps up with its overall aim to educate and shed light on the importance of healthcare decisions.  

How You Can Participate

It’s easy to participate! The ultimate goal is to get facilities, communities, and organizations talking. There are plenty of ways you can get involved independently or within a group to educate yourself and others and make a positive impact. 

Start your end-of-life planning 

The main goal is to start a conversation and bring people the resources and tools to decide and share their healthcare decisions, specifically at the end of their life. Cake is a free tool that can get all of your end-of-life wishes in one place. 

If you’re unsure what end of life planning or decisions are, think about the following:

  • Appointing a healthcare proxy
  • Deciding on a do not resuscitate (DNR) or full code status
  • Terminal Illness wishes
  • Hospice and palliative care 
  • Length of treatment 
  • Privacy and family involvement  

Informational table 

An informational table is a great way to get involved and learn more is to teach others. Utilize NHDD.org and out site for advanced directives and other resources and start an informational table at your workplace or local hospital, church, or another public place. You may want to include: 

  • Information about National Healthcare Decisions Day/Month and why it’s important.
  • Copies and examples of advanced directives. Free downloads of advanced directive forms by state and include:
    • Healthcare proxies: The healthcare proxy form allows you to appoint someone as your healthcare agent, which allows that person to make medical decisions if you’re unable to speak for yourself.
    • Living will: A living will is a form that outlines end-of-life wishes. 
    • MOLST/POLST form: This form should be completed with a doctor and contains end-of-life wishes pertaining to treatments the individual does or does not want. 
  • Papers with lists of resources. Hand out colorful fliers that include helpful websites and other resources, such as NHDD.com and joincake.com.

Social media 

Share an NHDD post on your Facebook page or make an even bigger splash by creating a Facebook campaign. Use social media to reach more people — it’s a great way to participate. 

Join the movement 

Interested in really making a difference? Join the movement and work toward a better public understanding of advanced care planning.

The Conversation Project welcomes new members to pledge and join the movement to make advanced care planning more widely known and better understood. 

Starter kits 

The Conversation Project offers starter kits to help you with the conversation with family and friends.

All starter kits are available to print and download for free. Participate in NHCDD by having a discussion with your loved ones. 

Your Wishes Matter

The last thing you might want to think about is the end of your life, but you deserve to have a say in how it ends. That’s why NHCDD is celebrated annually. 

The Conversation Project and professionals across the country believe that it’s important to make end-of-life decisions while you still can. Use free tools like Cake to spell out exactly what you would like (and not like) to happen in case you are unable to say it for yourself. 

If you want to learn more about special days that celebrate advance care planning, read our guide on Long-Term Care Planning Month.


Sources

  1. “Advanced Careplanning.” National Institute of Aging. www.nia.nih.gov/health/caregiving/advance-care-planning
  2. “Arizona Healthcare Decisions Month Toolkit April 2019.” static1.squarespace.com/static/57684fb7579fb3ab7145720c/t/5c955bea08522938214611d0/1553292272176/2019+AZ+Healthcare+Decision+Month+Toolkit+Final.pdf
  3. Kōkua Mau. kokuamau.org/
  4. “Make a Plan During National Healthcare Decisions Month.” Minuteman Senior Services. www.minutemansenior.org/our-services/healthy-living/healthy-living-tips/make-a-plan-during-national-healthcare-decisions-month
  5. “National Healthcare Decisions Day - April 16th.” The Conversation Project. theconversationproject.org/nhdd/
  6. “Join the Movement.” The Conversation Project. theconversationproject.org/nhdd/join-the-movement/

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