Published on October 08, 2015

Summit puts quality of life in the spotlightSummit puts quality of life in the spotlight

There is no doubt that medicine and technology have improved our lives immeasurably over the last 10-20 years, allowing us to lead longer, fuller lives. But, as we age, our declining health often outpaces the ability of healthcare and technology to maintain the quality of life we envision for ourselves. This issue is extremely relevant to Barnstable County, where 25% of us are over 65 – the most in the state and among the highest in the nation.

Yet, while most of us – while still in a healthy state of mind – can articulate our desires for the quality of life we would like to have in our later years, we often have not had that critical discussion with our family members or close friends, or our healthcare provider. When we experience a life-altering illness or injury, our family members are often left to decide for us.

When faced with a progressive chronic illness we need to tailor our treatment plans to consider what is important to the patient in their life. Too often at the end of that progression both loved ones and clinicians are faced with the heart-wrenching question, “Is this what she (he) would really want?” We must, as a community, begin to have these discussions with our loved ones, friends and patients while they are healthy in body and mind, and document their wishes in a way that we ensure the quality of life they desire.

To that end, Cape Cod Healthcare is sponsoring the first Quality of Life Management Summit on October 14, 2015 at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis. At the Summit, which is free and open to the public, we will begin the discussion about how to talk about and document quality of life and end of life wishes for our loved ones and patients. Key note speaker is Dr. Daniel Hoefer, Chief Medical Officer for Outpatient Palliative Care, Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, CA, who has extensive knowledge and training in quality of life issues.

The day will also feature talks by local healthcare experts on several other subjects, such as the legal aspects of life planning, and the “5 Wishes” and MOLST (Massachusetts Orders f0r Life Sustaining Treatment Program) end of life documents. We will hear about the management of chronic illnesses, and how to convey choices and goals to family, friends and healthcare providers.

The day-long Summit will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m., and we encourage members of local skilled nursing facilities, EMS, Elder Services, councils on aging, home health agencies, churches and any other interested groups or individuals to attend the forum.
Caring for our community does not stop at the hospital or physician’s office doors. Knowing a patient’s wishes – whether it is for more treatment or when to stop – will ensure the most optimal care and the most peace of mind for them and their family members.

For more information, call 508-957-7473.

Donald A. Guadagnoli, MD, is the Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer at Cape Cod Healthcare.