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Advance Care Planning

What is a healthcare advocate?

A healthcare advocate is someone you choose to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to. Your advocate (also known as a proxy, surrogate, or agent) should know you well and know what you would want so that he or she will be able to make those tough decisions for you. Since not all medical situations can be foreseen and every situation is different, having a healthcare advocate that knows you and your values well is very important.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is thinking about your medical wishes early. By thinking about them, discussing them, and documenting them (called an advance directive), you are more likely to get the care you want later. Furthermore, your loved ones can be clear about what your wishes are, and that can give them peace of mind.

Advance care planning is not just for the elderly. At any age, something could happen that would leave someone too sick to make medical decisions on their own. It is recommended that anyone over age 18 do advance care planning and make an advance directive. Studies show that over 70% of us will rely on this information someday.

Why should I take the time to do this?

There are many good reasons to complete an advance directive – what we call our TruePlan — and you can do it in the time it takes to eat a bowl of cereal. Your wishes should be part of any conversation about what medical treatment is right for you. Nobody knows when we will need these decisions, and it is much easier to make them while we are healthy and thinking clearly.

Documenting who will make your medical decisions if you are not able to and making sure that person understands what you would want will help your doctors provide the right treatment for you. Studies show that it will also help your family cope better. You will find a short educational video on how to choose your healthcare advocate when you get to that point on your TruePlan.

In a few states, if you fail to appoint a health care advocate, decisions about health care may be left to your doctor or hospital administrators. In these states, your loved ones may have to go through a costly, time-consuming court process to get the legal right to make medical decisions for you. This is called guardianship or conservatorship. We think it would be valuable to you and your family to use TrueNorth so that your wishes can be heard.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive (full name: Advance Medical Directive) is a legal document that informs your doctor, your family, and your advocate of your medical wishes in case you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. It usually consists of two parts: a durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will. The TruePlan is an example of an advance medical directive.*

  1. Durable power of attorney for health care: This form allows you to name a healthcare advocate – someone who would make your medical decisions if you are not able to. Your advocate (also known as a proxy, surrogate, or agent) should be familiar with your values and wishes so that he or she will be able to decide for you when treatment decisions need to be made. Since not all medical situations can be foreseen and every situation is different, having a healthcare advocate that knows you and your values well is very important. They may have to make critical medical decisions for you.
  2. Living Will: This document informs your doctors and your advocate how you want to be treated if you are too sick to make decisions for yourself. The TruePlan asks two multiple-choice questions about your values as a simple living will.

* Please note that TrueNorth is not a law firm or an attorney and does not provide legal advice. Some states may have laws governing health care proxy forms and directives, such as laws regarding the use of electronic signatures. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer who can guide you through additional or alternative steps that may be advisable or required in your jurisdiction."

What is a healthcare advocate?

A healthcare advocate is someone you choose to make medical decisions for you if you are not able to. Your advocate (also known as a proxy, surrogate, or agent) should know you well and know what you would want so that he or she will be able to make those tough decisions for you. Since not all medical situations can be foreseen and every situation is different, having a healthcare advocate that knows you and your values well is very important.

We recommend that you have a healthcare advocate. In a few states, if you fail to appoint an advocate, decisions about health care may be left to your doctor or hospital administrators. In these states, your loved ones may have to go through a costly, time-consuming court process to get the legal right to make medical decisions for you. This is called guardianship or conservatorship. We think it would be valuable to you and your family to use TrueNorth so that your wishes can be heard.

Who should be my healthcare advocate?


In addition to being at least 18 years old, the three most important qualities to think about when choosing your advocate are:

Trust – Someone you trust deeply to make critical medical decisions for you if you are not able to

Courage – Your advocate needs to have the courage to talk with everyone involved with your care and stand up for your wishes if they are not being honored

Present – Ideally, your advocate lives nearby or can travel easily to you so they can be present if needed

Your advocate must be willing to discuss and understand your goals, values, and beliefs so they can make those decisions for you with confidence.

Your healthcare proxy cannot be your doctor or someone who works at your hospital or clinic, unless he/she is a family member.

Please watch our 90-second video on choosing an advocate here

What should I discuss with my healthcare advocate?

What you discuss is entirely up to you. However, some guidance can be very helpful to make sure you talk about what is important medically to you. We recommend this guide from the Conversation Project.

What powers does my healthcare advocate legally have?

If – and only if – you are not able to make decisions for yourself, your advocate has the legal power to make medical decisions on your behalf. After you choose your advocate, you will be shown the powers your advocate may have. You will be able to limit them as you wish.

What is a living will?

A living will is a part of your advance directive that informs your doctors and your advocate how you want to be treated if you are too sick or unconscious to make decisions for yourself.

TrueNorth

What is TrueNorth?

TrueNorth is a social enterprise founded in 2012 by medical students and classmates passionate about improving the lives of patients and families. What began as a class project is now a cutting-edge online platform that empowers you to record your wishes about how you want to be treated if you get very sick. With TrueNorth you can complete your own advance directive – what we call a TruePlan – and invite loved ones to do the same through our unique TrueNetwork approach. We are dedicated to you being the center of your own care. You are our TrueNorth.

Is TrueNorth really free?

Yes, absolutely. We believe your peace of mind should not have a price tag.

Can I contact TrueNorth if I have questions?

Yes, email us at info@truenorthhealthcare.com and someone will get back to you shortly.

TruePlan

What is a TruePlan?

The TruePlan is a document that informs your doctor, your family, and your advocate of your medical wishes in case you cannot make medical decisions for yourself. The TrueNorth website will guide you through completing your TruePlan.

How long does it take to complete a TruePlan?

It depends on how ready you are to choose an advocate, how clear you are about your healthcare values, and if you have two people with you who can act as witnesses for you. It could take as little time as it takes to eat a bowl of cereal, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind a little sogginess in your last few bites. Unlike any cereal we've ever eaten, you can stop and save at any time and come back to it when you want to. You will find guidance on choosing an advocate as you are walked through the website.

What are the questions I’m asked in a TruePlan?

You are asked to choose a healthcare advocate and answer two multiple-choice questions about what you would value if you become very sick.

At TrueNorth we care about your well being. If thinking about these questions feels daunting to you, talk to your primary care doctor, a close friend, a caring family member, or a professional counselor for support. Trust your feelings to guide you to the right choices for you.

What if I want to change anything in my TruePlan?

Updating your TruePlan is easy and can be done at any time. Just log back in with your TrueNorth account, edit, and reprint and sign your TruePlan. Depending on the state you live in, it will need to be signed by witnesses and/or a notary to be valid.

I signed my TruePlan. Now what do I do with it?

We recommend giving a signed copy of your TruePlan to:

1. To your Advocate(s) 


2. To your doctor. Ask your doctor to scan it into your medical chart 


3. To your family members 


4. And keep a signed copy in a place you can find it you should need it.

You can always log back into TrueNorth to make a new TruePlan. If you do so be sure to destroy all previous copies and give a copy of your latest version to everyone who had the old one.

Is my TruePlan confidential?

TrueNorth takes your privacy seriously. We keep your personal health information secure. We will not share your TruePlan choices with your insurers. You can choose who has access to your TruePlan. To learn more see our Privacy Policy.

Is the TruePlan a legal document?


The TruePlan meets or exceeds the legal requirements for advance directives in most states. TrueNorth is not a law firm or an attorney and does not provide legal advice. Some states may have laws governing health care proxy forms and directives, such as laws regarding the need for signatures of witnesses and notaries and the use of electronic signatures. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer who can guide you through additional or alternative steps that may be advisable or required in your jurisdiction

Do I need a lawyer or notary public to complete my TruePlan?

You do not need a lawyer to complete your TruePlan. In most states you do not need a notary to complete a TruePlan. Please see the legal requirements for your state.

What if I want to make health care choices that are not available in the TruePlan (such as organ donation, funeral arrangements, and estate planning)?

There are some things that you may not be able to express through your TruePlan. We encourage you to think about all of your choices and to communicate them to your healthcare advocate and those who care for you. For organ donation, please visit your state registry website.

TrueNetwork

What is a TrueNetwork?

If you have a Facebook account, a TrueNetwork is an easy way to invite your Facebook friends into a special circle. You can tell your TrueNetwork friends that you've completed a TruePlan and encourage them to do the same. It’s a way of sharing a good – and important – thing.

Will the other people in my TrueNetwork see my TruePlan?

No, not unless you share with them a copy of your TruePlan.

Who should I invite into my TrueNetwork?

Invite your family, your close friends, and anyone you think would benefit – most people would!

Can I create more than one TrueNetwork?

Yes, you can create up to 10 TrueNetworks and give each one a different name. Each TrueNetwork can have up to 10 members.

Does this information become part of my medical record?

No. We recommend you give a copy of your signed TruePlan to your doctors to scan into your medical record.