Answering Your Advance-Care Planning Questions - Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice

Answering Your Advance-Care Planning Questions

Alison White Start the ConversationWe offer free, Start the Conversation workshops in our community. These conversations are a wonderful opportunity to meet central Vermonters and to share information about CVHHH’s mission and work, including hospice. They also often provide us with the chance to answer your questions about end-of-life care and advance-care planning.

Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions and answers.

Click Here For More Information about Start the Conversation, including how to schedule a free workshop.

What is an Advance Directive? An Advance Directive is any written communication from you, properly signed and witnessed, that speaks about your future wishes and instructions for health care. When you write an Advance Directive, you are planning ahead for a variety of medical situations that you may face and assuring that your health care wishes are known, documented, and honored.

Why do I need to fill out an Advance Directive? There may come a time when you are seriously ill or injured and cannot make your own decisions about what kinds of treatments you want under certain circumstances. Having an Advance Directive means that our health care wishes will be honored.

Won’t my partner or next of kin make these decisions for me? In Vermont, it is not automatically your spouse or next of kin who will make decisions on your behalf if your are unable to do so yourself. Selecting a Health Care Agent is another important decision, along with filling out an Advance Directive, that you should make.

Does my doctor have to honor my Advance Directive? As long as your Advance Directive is properly signed and witnessed, your physician is legally required to follow the directions in your Advance Directive as closely as possible. If your doctor disagrees with your wishes, he or she must help find another physician willing to follow your instructions. That applies to all doctors involved in your care.

Do I need to get the Advance Directive notarized? No, you do not. You can fill out an Advance Directive on your own, as long as it is properly witnessed and signed. You don’t need a notary or lawyer.

Where can I get an Advance Directive to fill out? The Vermont Ethics Network has all of the advance-care planning forms available to download and print for free on their website.

Once you’ve filled out your Advance Directive, send copies to the following individuals:

  • Health Care Agent
  • Close family and friends
  • Primary Care Physician

You should also send a copy of your signed and witnessed Advance Directive to the Vermont Advance Directive Registry, a database that allows people to electronically store a copy of their advance directive in a secure database. The database may be accessed when needed by authorized health care providers, health care facilities, residential care facilities

For More Information If you would like to learn more about Start the Conversation, or about filling out an Advance Directive, please contact Emily McKenna at 802-224-2215 or via email.

Recognition and thanks goes to one of our most valuable community partners, the Vermont Ethics Network, for providing us with so much valuable information and resources to support this outreach. For a wealth of information on patient rights and filling our Advance Directive, and related, forms, visit the Vermont Ethics Network online.

Photo courtesy of Alison White, CVHHH Board Member