For Patients & Families
You are always in charge of your medical decisions. Advance Care Planning (ACP) allows you to have control over the life-prolonging treatments you receive if facing a serious illness and death is likely in the foreseeable future as part of the natural course of that illness.
One important ACP tool is an advance directive which allows you to name the person you have chosen to make health decisions for you and to give general treatment wishes, if you are not able to speak for yourself.
In addition, some people will also want to complete a POLST form (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment.) POLST is intended for patients with advanced illness or medical frailty where death is likely in the foreseeable future as part of the natural course of illness. POLST is not intended for most people with a stable disability. The only time someone with a disability or significant mental health condition would be offered POLST is if they are facing their end of life or have a terminal condition in addition to their disability.
Different from an advance directive, the POLST is a physician’s medical order based on your wishes that is required to be followed by all health care professionals in Alaska, including emergency medical services (EMS/911.)
The most important part of POLST is the discussion between you and your health care provider to better understand your condition, treatment options, and what kinds of care you want. It is important that you ask all of the questions you need to so that you fully understand your choices and how they will affect the care you receive. Your provider will take the decisions you’ve made about your treatment wishes and turn those into medical orders by filling out a POLST form.
The POLST form and patient brochure are available in English, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Samoan, Latin American Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Translations from the English form are for educational purposes only. The signed POLST form must be in English so that all health care professionals and emergency personnel can read and follow the orders.
The videos below help to explain advance care planning and some of the types of care that you may want to consider as part of your treatment wishes.
[All videos copyright ©2020 Care+ Ventures LLC and may not be duplicated or used in any format without the expressed written consent of Care+ Ventures, LLC.]
How Hope Grows: Thinking about how your wishes may change as your condition progresses
Types of Medical Care: an overview of intensive, selective, and comfort care
Planning Ahead: an overview of advance care planning
CPR: How does it work?
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR): What is it and what are your wishes?
Hospice: What is it and when is it helpful?
Other Helpful Resources:
Advance Care Planning: Talk About it, Write it Down, Share it Around
Honoring Choices PACIFIC NORTHWEST
These free Conversation Guides can help you have ‘the conversation’ with the important people in your life about your – or their – wishes for care through the end of life.
The Conversation Project, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
Workbook: What Matters to Me. Patient's Guide to Serious Illness Conversations
Advance Care Directives: