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April is Healthcare Decisions Month

Healthcare Decisions Month is a movement initiated by Honoring Choices Massachusetts – a consumer focused, nonprofit organization which informs, and empowers adults to make a personal health care plan and connect to the best possible care that honors their values and choices, all through their lives.

Celebrating its the 10th year, Healthcare Decisions Month is about educating and empowering every competent adult ages 18 and older to make a health care plan.

Every adult, 18 years and old, or their Health Care Agent and Guardian, has the right to be fully informed about their health care to make choices for care that reflect each individual’s care goals, values and priorities.

Honoring Choices Massachusetts has created an Easy 3-Step Tool Kit to help. It can be viewed and downloaded for free here.

Step I: Choose a Health Care Agent in a Health Care Proxy:

Ask a trusted person to be your Health Care Agent. Your Agent can be a family member, friend, co-worker, faith or community group member — anyone you trust except a person employed in the facility where you are a patient unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Your Agent is your advocate and tells your family and care providers what’s important to you and your instructions for care.

Your Agent makes health care decisions based on your values, beliefs and the care you want.

Your Agent can ‘step in’ if you have a serious illness or injury and your physician determines you are unable to make care decisions for yourself, even for a short while.

If you regain your ability to make your own decisions, your Agent ‘steps back’ and no longer has decision-making powers.

A spouse or family member does not automatically have the legal authority to make decisions unless appointed in a Health Care Proxy. Read more at https://malegislature.gov

You do not need an attorney to appoint an Agent in a Health Care Proxy. You can do it yourself by downloading the free form at honoringchoicesmass.com

Step 2: Write down your choices for care in a Personal Directive:

A Personal Directive is NOT a legally binding document, but a personal document in which you give your Health Care Agent and family specific information and instructions about the kind of care you want, sharing your values, religious and cultural beliefs, and choices and preferences for care.

The Honoring Choices Personal Directive can be used:

  1. As a discussion guide to talk with your Agent, family, friends, clergy and care providers;
  2. To give written instructions & information to your Agent and family;
  3. To start your personal health care plan, if you have not yet chosen an Agent.

You can create a Personal Directive without the help of an attorney or doctor. Just download and print the free Honoring Choices Personal Directive Instructions & Document from honoringchoicesmass.com.

Step 3: Talk with your care providers to align quality care to your choices:

There are 5 key things to discuss with your care providers:

  1. I’d like to understand more about my health or illness and treatment options
  2. I want to discuss my goals and explore the care I want and do not want
  3. Let’s discuss my care plan and writing down my choices in planning documents
  4. I’d like to make sure you know my choices and that my medical record is up-to-date
  5. I’d like to make sure my care providers honor my choices all through my life

For more information or to download the step-by-step toolkit, visit Honoring Choices Massachusetts.

100 South Street, Southbridge, MA 01550
Harrington OB/Gyn
Main Hospital
Central Scheduling