At any age, a medical crisis could leave you too ill to make your own healthcare decisions. Even if you are not sick now, planning for healthcare in the future is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care that aligns with your values. This is especially important in the event you are unable to speak for yourself and your doctors and family members are making the decisions for you.
What is advance care planning?
Advance care planning (ACP) helps adults at any age or stage of life understand and share their personal values, goals, and preferences regarding future healthcare. It is a gift you give your loved ones who might otherwise struggle during a medical emergency or crisis to make decisions or choices about the care you receive.
ACP is a process that occurs over time and includes thinking about your wishes, selecting a healthcare agent, completing an advanced directive document, and sharing that document with your family and healthcare team members.
ACP is a wellness activity, just like routine check-ups or physicals. All adults are encouraged to prepare for the unexpected and complete an advance directive at any stage of life.
Tower Health Medical Group uses Five Wishes®, a living will/advance directive document. By using this form, you can name a healthcare agent to say exactly how you wish to be treated if you become very ill. Five Wishes is easy to use and is accepted as a legal document in the State of Pennsylvania. View the English version or Spanish version online.
The benefits of ACP with a facilitator
- Working with an ACP Facilitator puts you at the center of focus
- Helps you learn what is important to you and how to add those values into your plan
- Uses your care team, so you can make important medical decisions
- Helps you name a healthcare agent, someone who will speak up for you if you are unable
- Guides you through sharing your plan to your family
- Helps family know and honor your choices - this eases decision making burden later
- Makes sure your Tower Health healthcare team is aware of your plan and can support you
- Refers you to other resources that can help support your plan when needed
Advance Care Planning FAQs
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive, sometimes referred to as a living will, is a document that allows you to express your wishes for the type of medical treatment you wish to receive in the event you are unable to speak or communicate those decisions on your own. Here at Tower Health, the Five Wishes® booklet is available for you free of charge to document your wishes for future medical care. In Pennsylvania, advance directives do not need to be notarized; the document only needs to be signed in front of two adult witnesses.
What is a healthcare agent or healthcare power of attorney?
A healthcare agent or power of attorney is someone you choose and is authorized to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so on your own.
What is a POLST?
In Pennsylvania, there is an additional type of advance directive document referred to as a POLST: Pennsylvania Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The POLST is recommended for anyone with serious health conditions and is signed by your physician or healthcare provider. You can review more information about POLST here.
What if I have questions?
You can contact one of our certified, advanced care planning facilitators at 484-628-0857 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to answer any questions, send you a Five Wishes® booklet, or provide individual consultations upon request.
What should I do with a completed advance directive?
You should keep your original document and make copies for your healthcare agent, primary care provider, family members, and hospital. If you would like to have your completed form added to your Tower Health medical record, you can:
- Upload a copy using your MyTowerHealth patient portal account.
- Send a copy to our medical records department at RHRecordRequest@towerhealth.org.
How can I obtain a Five Wishes® document to complete?
You can also contact us at 484-628-HELP (4357) or email@example.com to receive your free copy by mail. You can also contact our team of skilled facilitators at 484-628-0857 to discuss ACP in more detail.