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Speak for Yourself, Plan Your Care

Lakeland Health and the southwest Michigan community are approaching advance care planning (ACP) by using the evidence-based, Respecting Choices model, Speak for Yourself, Plan Your Care. This program is based on the model developed by Bud Hammes and Gunderson Healthcare Network in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. After years of excruciating conversations with families, trying to help them determine what their loved one would want during a crisis, Bud Hammes, a medical ethicist, decided to make a change. Most of the time they would be talking about a patient who had been sick for years. Why not talk about this earlier, when people aren’t in emotional distress? Image of Grandfather Helping Grandson to Ride a Bike

Twenty years later, 97 percent of the people who die in LaCrosse, Wisconsin have an advance directive in place, and have made their wishes known. By normalizing the conversation, they are making sure people stay in control of their own care, even if they can’t speak for themselves.

We’d like to do the same for our community with the Speak for Yourself, Plan Your Care program. This will be a multi-year endeavor that will require leadership, and hardwiring systems into the routines of care.

Program vision:

A community that supports ongoing positive conversations about each individual’s health care wishes.

The five promises1 of an effective advance care planning program are:

  1. We will initiate the conversation with our patient about their preferences for future care.
  2. We will provide assistance with ACP to those patients who express an interest in addressing these issues.
  3. We will make sure plans are clear when the planning process has reached an end.
  4. We will maintain and retrieve these plans whenever and wherever they are needed.
  5. We will appropriately follow these plans when the patients can no longer participate in their own decision making.

The Speak for Yourself, Plan Your Care program is based upon the premise that effective advance care planning is a process of communication that helps individuals:

  • Understand their choices for future health care
  • Reflect on personal goals, values, and religious
    or cultural beliefs
  • Talk to physicians, healthcare agents, and other loved ones as needed

It is much better to have these conversations early, when we’re in good health, so our families are not left trying to figure out what we would have wanted during a crisis. It really is a gift to our families to have this in place long before it’s needed.

For more information about advance care planning or to schedule an appointment, please call (269) 429-7100 or visit

1Hammes, B.J. & Briggs, L. (2011). Respecting Choices®:
Building a systems approach to advance care planning.


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For more information call
(269) 429-7100 or
(800) 717-3811


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