Is Your Facility at Risk? Evaluate Your Current State of Advance Care Planning, Advance Directives and Code Status

The month of April brings awareness to National Health Care Decisions Day. Founded in 2008, this day highlights the importance of advance care planning by providing education and resources to the public and providers.  Advance care planning bridges the gap between the medical care that the resident wants and the care that they receive.  Recent statistics show that approximately 60% of US adults do not have an advance directive.  How does this compare to the current state of your facility? This is a great time to evaluate your facility and identify areas of opportunity related to the advance care planning, advance directives, and code status for your residents. 

Begin by auditing how many of your residents have an advance directive. While your facility cannot mandate that your residents have an advance directive, you are responsible for informing residents of their right to establish one and for aiding if they wish to execute one. Do you have a process in place to facilitate advance care planning with residents and their families? Do you have resources available to assist residents in developing advance directives?  Do you have a reevaluation process when there is a change in the resident’s status? If not, work on creating a formal process that involves interdisciplinary team members, your resident, and their family. If you have a process, take a few moments to evaluate it. Are there any opportunities for improvement?

Evaluate the current rate of residents with code statuses. How does your team identify a resident’s code status? Does your facility’s process make it easy for staff to identify a resident’s code status and do not resuscitate (DNR) order in the event of an emergency? 

Acting now to review your facility’s current processes related to advance care planning, advance directives, and code status can help ensure that you are honoring your residents’ medical care choices while helping to decrease your facility risk.