“Do you have an Advance Medical Directive?” This is the most repeated and consistently asked question that Americans have heard from hospitals and medical facilities over the past quarter-century. And yet, since the first time it was asked, the estimated number of admitted patients who have answered “no” to this question has not changed. Why?
How can, or will, every American adult — individuals, patients and their loved ones — ever truly access, in any practical way, the guaranteed federal and state legal right and moral promise that tasks each one of us with directing the course of our own future medical treatment options based on our unique personal values, beliefs, choices, and well-informed decision-making? This question became the central organizing principle that led to the 2016 founding of Sacient ACP by a small group of Richmond, Virginia-based medical, clinical and certified advance care planning specialists who realized that the unfortunate answer to this common question was then, and remains now, “They can’t, and they won’t…not without help.”
In fact, given the revolutionary pace of change, complexity, and evolving regulations governing the delivery of quality health care within the nation’s very complicated medical system environments, the truth is that the average American adult has actually been moved farther away from, rather than closer to, any ready or practical way to access this right and promise since it was first codified in the law 26 years ago, with the ground-breaking enactment of the federal Patient Self-Determination Act of 1991.
When it comes to accessing this Advance Care Planning right and promise, our first passion and concern is for those millions of poor, illiterate, frail, and historically underserved fellow citizens who will never be able to adequately participate in modern advance care planning on their own. Illness, injury, disease, pain and physical suffering do not discriminate, especially when it comes to every individual’s inevitable health decline and death. Neither should we. Our pain is the same. Regardless of income, race, ethnicity, or literacy, in this we all share the same experiences and the same certain fate. As ongoing health care reforms unfolding at every level create evermore advanced, more expensive, and more technology-based systems of care, including our nation’s nascent movement to fully embrace and implement advance care planning processes as a systemic standard of routine patient care, the American healthcare “ship of state” is in imminent danger of permanently pulling away from the shore while, literally, leaving millions of confused and helpless Americans standing onshore without help. These Americans, too, deserve the ability to access their important legal right and promise, and they also would like to get onboard. But they simply never will, not without the professional help they need. They need help in understanding why this is so critically important, just as much as they need help in having the difficult conversations with their loved ones and doctors. These in-depth conversations must happen if we are to ever honestly achieve the expected medical standard of truly informed consent.
As a value-added healthcare ally and involved partner in every client’s medical treatment team, Sacient ACP is compassionately committed to contributing to truly person-centered advance care planning, patient and family satisfaction, and optimal treatment outcomes by assisting in the vital and substantive communication that must occur between patients and their doctors who seek the very best outcomes that only qualified, well-informed, and clinically supervised health care conversations and documented personal decisions are capable of delivering.
We also offer an Advance Care Planning Facilitator Certification Course for professionals, under the leading ACP curriculum the world-over, Respecting Choices®. All Sacient ACP Conversationalists are fully certified as First Steps and/or Last Steps facilitators and instructors. Contact us to discuss your organization’s professional development, staff certification and consulting needs. Contact us, too, if you have a personal background, passion and commitment to doing this work professionally, as a potential licensed Independent Associate.
And, oh, we get this question quite a lot: “Sacient? What does that mean?” Well, the short answer is: “It’s an archaic Welsh form of the word ‘Sentient,’ which is a thinking, feeling, living being. It’s a word most often used these days in science fiction movies about questionable aliens.”
We invite you to become our partners in widening access to competent and useful Advance Medical Directives and meeting the advance care planning needs of all Americans. Please join this important national movement! Thinking…Feeling…Living healthcare conversations. That’s what we’re about. SACIENT ACP — Informed Advance Care Planning…for Life!