The New Old Age, a Caring and Coping Blog of the New York Times, recently wrote an article entitled, “Hiring an End-of-Life Enforcer”. The article speaks to the harsh reality that some individuals do not have family or close friends to make medical decisions on their behalf when they can no longer speak for themselves. In fact, a 2006 study cited that 16 percent of the people in intensive care units have no designated decision-maker and no identifiable family member or close friend who could step in to make medical decisions on their behalf.
The article goes on to discuss the efforts of Dr. Berman, a retired administrator and single person herself who recognizes the need for individuals who could step in. In her co-authored article, presented in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, she calls these trained professional medical decision makers “the health fiduciary”. She envisions a model of trained professionals, perhaps social workers or nurses who could step in and advocate for these individuals to ensure their wishes are being respected and that they are getting good care. She even points out that these trained professionals could be a valuable resource to families already stepping into the role.
This model strikingly resembles what we at Tully & Winkelman, P.C. are doing every day. With our Life Care Planning model, we already offer individuals and families the advocacy and support needed to help navigate the health care system and more importantly help ensure an individual’s wishes are being met. Suzanne Paolucci, LCSW, the firm’s Elder Care Coordinator regularly attends Care Planning meetings in Nursing Homes and Hospitals and works closely with hospital social workers, discharge planners and medical professional in the community to help optimize the best plan of care for our clients. She stays closely involved to support family members who are taking on the role of advocating for their loved one’s health care. For individuals without family, Suzanne often works closely with Brian Tully, Founding Partner of Tully & Winkelman, P.C. in honoring the wishes of incapacitated individuals as Brian or one of the Firm’s attorneys, under certain circumstances, may be the designated Health Care Proxy. As one Life Care Planning client recently said, “Knowing Suzanne and Brian are there gives me piece of mind. I know they are going to make sure I am well taken care of”. The Life Care Planning model is able to achieve this because of the holistic approach it offers and the on-going relationship we have with our clients.
If you would like to read the full article in the New York Times please visit: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/hiring-an-end-of-life-enforcer/?_r=0
Please feel free to contact our office if you would like to discuss our Life Care Planning model option.