A new tool is now available for North Carolina citizens and health care providers that will help everyone understand end-of-life health care planning options and processes available under North Carolina law.  The new website can be found at www.agifttoyourfamily.org.

It includes two public service announcements (a longer and shorter version) designed to encourage everyone to think about end-of-life planning and creating advance directives such as living wills and health care powers of attorney.  The site also includes copies of North Carolina’s living will and advance directives statutory forms, a robust Question and Answer Section, and numerous other reference materials.  The “stars” of the website, however, are two e-learning courses that walk viewers step-by-step through completing a living will or health care power of attorney, complete with graphic assistance so the viewer can follow along easily.

Portions of the website have also been translated into Spanish, and the site will be periodically updated with additional materials.  The website was over three years in the making and was funded by nearly $40,000 in donations and grants, and hundreds of hours of volunteer time.

Sponsors of and donors to the website include  The N.C. Bar Foundation Endowment; Poyner Spruill, LLP; the N.C. Medical Society, the N.C. Association for Home Care & Hospice; the N.C. Bar Association Health Law Council; and the Bar Association’s Trust and Estates Section, among others.

Although the site was designed primarily for laypersons, it’s also a great tool for health care providers to use in training staff and volunteers on end-of-life issues, and in providing helpful information to residents, families, family councils, and other groups related to the facility. And it’s a great tool for community training programs sponsored by health care providers of all types.  Remember that under the federal Patient Self-Determination Act, all covered health care providers are expected to host periodic training for their communities about advance directives options available under state law.  This website is a great way to carry out that obligation by incorporating it and the e-learning courses into community educational programs and events.

The planning committee for the website is also exploring making the two Public Service Announcements available to providers on a thumb drive or other electronic medium for showing in facilities, physician offices, hospitals, and other health care provider sites. 

Finally, the N.C. Healthcare Facilities Association’s FutureCare Foundation is currently exploring a series of local community programs that will feature the website and other information on N.C. advance directives options and allow attendees to meet with local attorneys, medical professionals, and clergy to discuss their individual end-of-life choices and actually create or revise advance directives as part of the program.  This is still in the planning stages, so stand by for more information.