Advance care planning in Mortuary Sciences? Who would have guessed?
Michael LuBrant, Ph.D., Director of the Program of Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota, sees the relevance of advance care planning for his students. As part of their required coursework, students learn about Honoring Choices and the ACP movement in Minnesota. They listen to patient stories on death and dying from the Honoring Choices MN "Video Stories" website. And they review the HCM health care directive and identify how to share ACP information with client families they will soon serve.
According to LuBrant, "It is common for people to meet with funeral directors to discuss advance planning for the care of their body when they die. In fact, "pre-planning" is a service that has been offered by funeral directors for decades. We believe it's important to prepare our students as future Funeral Directors with the knowledge to discuss advance directives with those who are not familiar with this conversation."
As more people today identify their health care preferences, goals, and values as part of a health care directive document, it is becoming more common to plan in advance for the care and disposition of their body after they die.
The Honoring Choices Minnesota Health Care Directive form, for example, addresses the subject of patients' wishes related to funeral care. Significantly, the directive allows the patient to assign someone to serve as an agent to "arrange for and make decisions about the care of my body after death." As patients consider their end of life plans, the discussion of funeral options as part of advance planning can help ensure that the wishes of the patient, as well as the needs of the survivors, are met at the time of death.
LuBrant believes, "Funeral directors are part of the continuum of care in serving patients and families at the end of life. We are educating future funeral directors about the importance of advance care planning. We are encouraging them to discuss the benefits of completing a health care directive, if they have not already done so, with pre-need clients."
As a champion of ACP for his students, LuBrant recognizes that funeral directors and health professionals will be better able to serve the needs of individual family members and survivors at the time of death when advance planning takes place.