What is Advance Care Planning (ACP)?

Advance Care Planning is a three step process:

  1. Having a conversation.
  2. Appointing a Healthcare Agent in a document called a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare.
  3. Completing a document called an Advance Directive that outlines your wishes for medical treatment.


Why is ACP Important?

Anyone could have a serious accident or injury that leaves you unable to communicate. Having documents that identify who would speak on your behalf and what treatments you would or would not want, help guide family members and medical professionals. Advance Care Planning gives you a voice.  It allows for your wishes regarding important healthcare decisions to be known and honored.


When do Advance Directives take effect?

These forms take effect only in situations where you are unable to communicate.  Some examples might be an accident that leaves you in a coma or a stroke where you unable to express your wishes. Only then does your Advance Directive come into effect. Your Healthcare Agent will be contacted and asked to make decisions for you using your Advance Directive as a guide.


When should ACP be done?

Advance Care Planning is appropriate for anyone aged 18 and older. It is best done BEFORE a medical crisis ever begins.


Who can help me?

Pullman Regional Hospital Department of Social Work and Care Coordination have an entire team of trained ACP facilitators. These trained facilitators can meet you at the hospital or come to your home. They are specially trained to facilitate this important conversation for you and your loved ones. They can then help you complete the forms.


What does this cost?

Currently, there is no cost for our services.


More about Advance Directives

Who makes healthcare decisions for me?

If you are over 18 years of age and unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, the State of Washington specifies that the healthcare provider needs to consult with the following people in this order:

  1. A court-appointed guardian  (if you have one)
  2. Your Healthcare agent (if you’ve named one)
  3. Spouse or Registered Domestic Partner
  4. Children over the age of 18 (consensus required)
  5. Parents
  6. Adult brothers and sisters


Does my attorney need to be involved?

You may certainly choose to have your attorney assist however it is not required. Our Advance Care Planning facilitators are fully equipped to assist you in completing your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Advance Directive forms.


Is an Advance Directive the same thing as a POLST?

No, Advance Directives and POLST forms are different documents. Your Advance directive provides guidance to others and is used in more long term medical planning. The POLST form (Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) is an order signed by your doctor that tells first responders and clinicians what to do in an emergency, if they were to find you unresponsive. The POLST form is bright green and should be kept on your refrigerator. It is appropriate for those who currently have a terminal illness or are very fragile in their health status.


Where should I keep my Advance Directive?

Our Advance Care Planning facilitators can help you get your documents on file with your local hospital and with your primary care physician. You will want to provide copies to your family. You and your family should agree on a safe location to keep the originals at your home that is easily accessible.


Are there specific forms I should use?

There are different types of Advance Directive forms that may be used and you should use the one you like best. Our team at Pullman Regional Hospital is using a form created and endorsed by the Washington State Hospital Association and the Washington State Medical Association. We can provide you free copies of this form.


How frequently should I do these forms?

You are encouraged to review your Advance Care Directives every three to five years. Situations change and so may your health. You can prepare new forms anytime you desire. Discard the old forms and replace with the new ones making certain that your care providers and family all have copies.