Residents join research project to promote advance care planning

It may be an uncomfortable topic for many people, but outlining healthcare wishes in advance of a serious health crisis is important. It ensures an individual’s end-of-life wishes are carried out and alleviates stress for loved ones who may be unsure of final wishes. To help address this issue, several Ecumenical residents partnered with researchers from Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for Project Talk.

Several Ecumenical residents and family members gather to discuss advance care options as part of the Project Talk national research project.

Project Talk is a five-year research initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The project aims to engage underserved communities to include mild cognitive impairment in advance care planning and empower seniors to start conversations about their end-of-life goals and wishes while they are able to make their own decisions.

“The ultimate goal of this supplemental research is to find the best way to encourage advance care planning in a vulnerable population that has an urgent need for it,” said Dr. Lauren Jodi Van Scoy, professor of medicine, humanities and public health sciences at Penn State Health and lead researcher for Project Talk Trial. “We need to find out how to help them be involved in their medical decision-making before significant incapacity occurs.”

Several Ecumenical residents were screened and chosen for this project along with their respective family members. Participants gathered in a comfortable environment to talk together about their goals and values related to medical care.  These important conversations considered various medical interventions each individual would or would not want if they were facing a medical emergency, such as being placed on a ventilator for breathing support or being resuscitated when their heart stops.

“We hope those who participate in this innovative research project will not only benefit but also enjoy the activity. Participants will be helping to advance science by helping researchers understand the best approach to advance care planning for this population,” said Amy Tucci, president of HFA and a co-investigator.

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