Discussing end of life care, regardless of where it occurs in an individual’s life span, is a fragile process that makes many people feel vulnerable. It is often seen as a private conversation that needs to take place in a dark closed room with 1 or 2 very close family members. This image makes the question about the overall societal role in such conversations difficult to answer. The answer is: everyone has a role. There will always be community members in need. Not all community members may want the support. Whether your community is your church, your organization or your community at large, this page will provide you with some ideas and resources to start these important conversations.
Many local municipalities already have many resources in place to support those who want/need it. If you are a community member, start by:
- Identify Existing Resources: Call your town office, library, local clergy and law enforcement to ask what services are offered
- Make Yourself Known: Offer your name and contact information as a resource to anyone who is identified as needing such support
If you are a community official or other interested party, start by:
- Identifying a team and a leader/spokesperson.
- Convene local officials to discuss specific cases and identify resources (including representatives from the town office/council, law enforcement, church groups etc.)
- Contact the local Area Agency on Aging, AARP and/or Home Care and Hospice agency to identify additional stakeholders
- Identify a vision and make a plan with specific goals in mind; i.e. Our community wants to provide general resources to those in need or our community wants to ensure that no member of the community has to go without, at a minimum, having a conversation about their last wishes.
- Communicate with the community, through town forums, public service announcements, local events where community members can get 1:1 support in discussing advanced care planning. Start a book club or a host movie screening event to get the community thinking about end of life discussions. A post-movie screening email survey from Being Mortal found that 91% say they are now more comfortable discussing their end-of-life wishes, and 81% say they have talked to someone about the kind of care they would want if they were dying.