Proactive Care Planning For Covid 19

Focusing on what you can control during the coronavirus outbreak

The fear and uncertainty many of us feel related to COVID-19 is real, and it is understandable. During the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing you can control is who speaks for you if you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency. The best time to plan for future healthcare decisions is before a medical crisis occurs. It is more important than ever that your loved ones and healthcare team understand what matters most to you in the event that you become seriously ill.

Having the conversation ahead of time allows your loved ones to be sure they are following your wishes if you are not able to communicate your wishes for yourself. 

Whom Do I Talk to About Proactive Care Planning?

We encourage you to choose someone you trust to make decisions for you during those times when you are unable to speak for yourself. This person is called a healthcare surrogate (KY) or healthcare representative (IN) and can support you with complex medical decisions and make decisions for you in the future if you are unable.

It is important that you choose a healthcare surrogate/representative or dedicated decision maker who is willing to:

  • Accept this role,
  • Talk with you about your goals, values, and preferences,
  • Follow your decisions (even if they do not agree with them), and
  • Make decisions in difficult moments (such as stressful times, differing opinions, and crisis situations).

Having a conversation with your surrogate/representative is the most important part of ensuring they understand your wishes clearly and know they are appointed as the person to speak on your behalf regarding medical decisions, should you need it. You may also find it helpful to talk about your wishes with your loved ones who are not appointed as decision makers so there is less room for disagreement within the family.

Start the conversation by talking about what matters most to you

There’s no way to tell if a sudden illness, such as COVID-19, could leave you unable to make your own decisions. Your healthcare surrogate/representative and loved ones may need to make decisions about treatment options and where you might receive care, such as in your home, hospital, or care facility. By giving direction ahead of time, your surrogate/representative, loved ones, and doctors will know what matters most to you, treatments you want, and treatments that match your goals and values.

This conversation will help them to know your answers to questions such as:

  • What is most important for you to live well? For example, if you were having a good day, what would happen on that day?
  • What personal, cultural, or spiritual beliefs do you have, if any, that would impact your care?
  • What do you want if you became very ill? For example, would you want your medical care to focus on living longer, maintaining current health, or comfort care?
  • What worries you most about the situation? What fears do you have?
  • What else would you want us to know about what is important to you at this time?

What else needs to be considered?

Understanding the complications of COVID-19 in the context of your current medical condition will help you weigh the benefits and burdens of treatment options – from your perspective – and then discuss your priorities for medical care with those closest to you, your doctor and healthcare team.

What is an advance directive?

An advance directive is a written document with directions made in advance for how to handle medical decisions if you are unable to speak or make those decisions yourself. These directives can communicate what your wishes are for certain scenarios like long-term tube feeding or breathing support. 

The Living Will directive in Kentucky or the Healthcare Representative Appointment in Indiana allows you to choose a person who can make healthcare decisions for you. This person will only make decisions if you cannot make them yourself.

For most common questions regarding advance care planning, visit our Advance Directives FAQ. You can easily upload those documents to MyChart so medical staff can access your advance directive quickly in a medical emergency.

To request a printed brochure about advance directives that includes the form for a Living Will Directive for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, please call the Advance Care Planning hotline at 859.639.7800.

Start planning now

These can be tough things to talk about especially in these uncertain times. Think of these conversations as a gift of love to those close to you. Knowing your decisions, goals, and values will be a great comfort to them.