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Why I Do What I Do

During my 25 years as a hospital and hospice social worker I assisted numerous patients and their families fill out Advance Directives.  More importantly, I attempted to include them in discussions about the breadth and depth of their decision making, including education about the role and responsibilities of the newly-named agent for healthcare decision making. This work was wrought with difficulties and minimal success due to the urgency of the illness, the many interruptions, absent key players from the patient’s family, lack of time to discuss and process information and emotions, and almost always, patient and family stress, pain and dis-ease in the institutional setting.

I have since learned how to ask better questions and obtain better answers from patients and families.  People who have these important conversations are glad they did. Those who did not, wish they would have.

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