When you’re healthy, happy, and in the prime of your life, medical crises or emergencies are the last things on your mind. However, some health concerns can and do arise when you least expect them, so preparation is key.
It could be you or a loved one getting involved in an accident or becoming too ill to be able to decide on your plan of care. This is why medical crisis planning is crucial.
As much as possible, work with a medical crisis planner at a time when the possibility of an emergency cropping up seems too far off or improbable. By planning early on, you’ll ensure you have a say in the medical care you receive in case you become incapacitated.
Uncertain about your need for a medical crisis planner? Here, we’ll discuss crisis planning at length and the role of a medical crisis planner.
Crisis planning involves preparing in advance for the care you’ll receive during future medical crises. Although medical emergencies or crises and debilitating diseases are usually associated with old age, they can actually happen anytime.
When they do, you may be caught off-guard, sorely unprepared to make quick decisions. Worse still, you could become seriously ill or unable to make your own healthcare choices. Therefore, to ensure you receive the type of medical care you want now and in the future – whether you are physically able to say so or not – start crisis planning as soon as possible. With a crisis plan in place, you won’t need to depend on your healthcare providers or family members to make tough choices for you.
For example, people with terminal illnesses may find it too stressful to make end-of-life or emergency decisions. They might not even be conscious when crucial healthcare-related resolutions need to be made or questions answered.
With crisis planning, you can prepare answers to tough, life-changing questions well ahead of time. You’ll be prepared for various medical scenarios and even appoint people who can and will make decisions for you when you’re no longer able.
The Medical Crisis Plan
Medical crisis planning entails familiarizing yourself with the various decisions you might have to make when the time comes. You’ll also have to let your family and healthcare providers know about those specific choices.
When it comes to treatment decisions, your personal values play a key role. If you get sick and receive treatment, would you be more concerned about getting a few extra days of life? Or, would your quality of life trump how long you’ll be around? Would you allow the use of a ventilator in case you are paralyzed or in a coma? Why or why not?
Aside from the answers to these questions (and more), your medical crisis plan also contains information on the type of medical attention you want or expect.
All these details are recorded in a medical crisis plan or an advance care directive, which will become legally binding if and when you become incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness at any point in time.
You can also discuss your feelings, values, and expectations regarding end-of-life care in your medical crisis plan. Depending on your life circumstances or health situation, your medical crisis plan may still change or undergo revisions.
What Is the Purpose of a Crisis Plan?
A crisis plan prepares you, your family, and healthcare providers for certain eventualities, specifically medical crises or emergencies that might render you unable to make your own decisions concerning the care you’ll receive.
With a crisis plan, you can make advance care planning decisions on the use of certain emergency treatments, including the following:
- Artificial nutrition and hydration: If you are unable to eat or are recovering from an illness, you may be fed through a tube or by hand. In case you can’t drink normally, fluids may be delivered intravenously through a thin plastic tube inserted into a vein.
- Comfort care: Usually administered as part of late-stage or end-of-life medical attention, comfort care is designed to soothe you and relieve your suffering in line with your wants or wishes. Comfort care encompasses the management of shortness of breath;, setting medical testing limits,; administering medication for pain, nausea, etc.,; and spiritual and emotional counseling.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): If your heart stops beating or has a serious abnormal rhythm, you may receive CPR. The process involves putting air into the lungs to get the heart to beat normally again. However, older adults or people who are frail may be unable to bear the force and can sometimes end up with broken ribs or a collapsed lung.
- Use of ventilators or life support equipment: A ventilator is an emergency treatment machine designed to help you breathe. Aside from ventilators, other life support equipment includes anesthesia and heart-lung bypass machines.
While some people find using these emergency care treatments as something to be expected in hospitals and similar settings, others do not consider being dependent on these.
Whether you are fine with using these (or not) should ideally be mentioned in your medical crisis plan.
The Role of a Medical Crisis Planner
A medical crisis planner works by supporting the patient during crises and helping them restore order and stability back into their life. They work with the healthcare team to get all the necessary details they need to provide their patients and clients. This way, the latter would know their options in dealing with the crisis through medical emergency planning.
By using an action plan created in collaboration with you, your family, and the healthcare team, a medical crisis planner can make it easier for everyone to recover or bounce back from the crisis. Your medical crisis planner will be with you and your team every step of the way.
Why You Might Need a Medical Crisis Planner
While debilitating disease, serious accidents, and other medical crises may be the furthest thing on your mind, you also need to remember these can happen to anyone.
And if something does happen to you, you may be isolated from your loved ones indefinitely, especially if they are busy with work and other commitments. They could also feel confused about all the information coming from different sources, such as doctors and specialists.
A medical crisis planner can help in such situations, as they have the requisite medical knowledge and experience to deal with healthcare professionals. They are familiar with hospital processes and settings and can ensure they get accurate information to help you make informed decisions about your situation. They will work as your advocate and help keep you motivated until you fulfill your goals.
Medical crisis planning is well worth investing in while you’re not yet in a crisis. Working with a medical crisis planner helps you answer questions that have to do with the way you want things handled should you become incapacitated due to illness or injury.
Rather than waiting until you get too old to conduct crisis planning, you can start today and mull over every question carefully before answering. Taking this preemptive measure means you’re not only making sure you have a say in future healthcare decisions concerning you, but you’re also freeing your family and loved ones from having to guess at your answers to the most difficult decisions.
Do you need help with medical crisis planning?
Please get in touch with our medical crisis planners at Care Weavers.
You may also visit our resources page for more information.