Coastal Hospice Offers Free Advance Directive Workshops

As part of a new initiative, Coastal Hospice will offer free Advance Care Planning workshops to area clubs and organizations on the Lower Shore during April, which is recognized as Healthcare Decisions Month. Those attending the presentations will learn about the importance of Advance Directives and receive information about completing their own documents.

Nationally, only about 26% of adults have Advance Directives. That means nearly three-quarters of Americans run risk having no way to express their wishes for treatment if they are injured and unable to speak. This situation is often worse for the patient’s loved ones, who are left trying to decide what the patient would want. Disagreements have been known to fracture families and wind up in court.

“We believe advance care planning is part of good healthcare,” said Alane Capen, Coastal Hospice president. “It involves thinking and talking about goals, values and healthcare choices. This process will help those closest to you and those responsible for your healthcare to provide the best care when you cannot speak for yourself.

“April is National Healthcare Decisions Month, so this is a perfect time to discuss this important topic, although we will continue our workshops throughout the year,” she continued.

Coastal Hospice has invested in educating staff members to guide community groups and individuals through the process of creating Advance Directives. With a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, staff members from Coastal Hospice attended the Respecting Choices ™ conference at Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse, Wi. Gundersen’s Advance Care Planning program was made the subject of a community-wide effort in LaCrosse and has been proven to deliver on its promise to provide more patients with the care they chose for themselves. The program helps participants ensure that their wishes are clearly documented.

Through these free presentations, Coastal Hospice hopes to replicate the impact Gundersen had in their own community. Studies there examined the medical records of patients who died in two years after the Respecting Choices ™ program was presented. They found that in 99% of cases, the treatment decisions matched those chosen by the patients.

Coastal Hospice staff members who have received this education will be available to make presentations throughout the year, but the agency is placing an emphasis on this issue during April. For more information or to arrange a speaker for your group, contact Community Relations Manager Elaine Bean at 410 742-8732 or

Founded in 1980, Coastal Hospice is a nonprofit health care organization that cares for individuals facing life-limiting conditions but who want to remain as active and engaged as possible.  Coastal Hospice cares for patients in their home, nursing home, assisted living facility or at Coastal Hospice at the Lake, and serves Somerset, Dorchester, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

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