In the past 50 years, dramatic advances have been made in medical technology and treatment. A marked change in the doctor-patient relationship, with a strong emphasis on self-determination, has accompanied these healthcare advances.
Looking Ahead believes these factors constitute a call to action for every person to contemplate what treatment they would want in the case of a terminal illness or a sudden, unexpected catastrophic medical event. And equally important: they should designate a trusted surrogate – a healthcare agent – whom they would authorize to make decisions about their medical care if they were unable to do so themselves.
Looking Ahead Advance Care Planning addresses these concerns by providing people of any age or health circumstances with professional and personal guidance for making future healthcare decisions. Our advance care planning specialists review the options that are available to each individual and then assist in recording each person’s wishes in accordance with their goals, values and beliefs. Our ACP specialists also facilitate the communication of these wishes to loved ones and healthcare providers.
60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is ‘extremely important.’
56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes.
Looking Ahead Advance Care Planning wants to help change those statistics.
Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)
Betsy Payn, MSN
Betsy’s 34-year-plus career in home health care, hospice and palliative care includes six years with Doylestown Hospital Hospice, seven years as administrator for a home health agency and, most recently, four years as a geriatric care manager. Her own experiences with patients as well as her oversight of other caregivers led her to the certainty that how today’s medical professionals, families and elder or terminally ill patients deal with imminent death is neither healthy nor necessary. And so she set out to learn more about the process of planning for, preparing for and anticipating death.
She found her “best practices” in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where Gundersen Health System’s innovative Respecting Choices® program provides training and a wealth of resources for those who want to help others take charge of their death by talking about it: what their doctors believe are reasonable health outcomes for their individual circumstances, how patients want to live their “final journey,” and what to say to their loved ones so they can support the patient’s expressed choices and make decisions reflecting those wishes, should they need to.
Her experiences with Respecting Choices and with the professionals and families she has met, followed and worked with encouraged her to develop Looking Ahead Advance Care Planning so she can bring what she has learned to Bucks County individuals, families and organizations. Betsy’s goal is not only to help ease the transition that each of us must experience, but also to influence a shift in our culture to a greater acceptance of death and better preparation for the end of every life.
Veronica Coyne, MD
An internist with an active practice in Doylestown for 35 years, Veronica further pursued her great interest in gerontology, palliative care and hospice by serving as medical director for Doylestown Hospital Hospice for 12 years.
Through shared experiences at the hospice level and a growing mutual respect, she and Betsy found that they both sought to create a dramatic change in how individuals and families in our society prepare for their final years and make decisions around end-of-life healthcare. As Betsy began developing Looking Ahead Advance Care Planning, Veronica was exploring what her next stage of life and career would look like. The concept of a working partnership in the new nonprofit arose out of their ensuing discussions.
Looking Ahead Advance Care Planning operates as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. Its board of directors, which provides direction to the principals, is comprised of community leaders, business professionals and experts in a variety of fields who support Looking Ahead’s mission: To teach and promote advance care planning (ACP) and to participate at the one-on-one level as a means to enhance personal healthcare and lifecare decisions before the need arises.