Dr. Kevin Valadares, Chair of Health Administration and Associate Professor of Health Services, started his work in fall 2014 with the New Harmony Conversations Project to develop a community microsystem to honor advance care planning choices. Valadares has assembled a team of 15- 20 core facilitators made up of local New Harmony residents, Historic New Harmony staff members, inter disciplinary faculty members from USI and healthcare professionals from Deaconess and St. Mary’s Health Systems in Evansville, Indiana. The facilitators have received training through Respecting Choices: First Steps Advanced Care Planning Program to begin facilitating conversations with residents of New Harmony and New Harmony Township.
The difference between this project and other advance care planning initiatives is that the project is completely community driven. This grassroots effort within New Harmony is to see if a community of people can influence how a population looks at death and communicating their wishes for their healthcare with their loved ones. The hope is to alleviate the stigma surrounded by the conversations of planning for death within a community and educate people about the importance of planning before a tragedy. These conversations will take place outside of a medical facility and be a model for other communities around the nation to educate its members on the importance of advanced care planning.
Next steps for New Harmony Conversations:
Over the last several years the program has grown and expanded, from its original vision in fall 2014. The project will continue its devotion to conversations through awareness, education and legislation. With 31 facilitators already trained over last year, Dr. Valadares has decided to pilot a program to implement ACP conversations into the nursing curriculum at USI. These students will become trained facilitators and be required to perform several ACP conversations as part of their course work. The hope is that by training and educating them about ACP we will hopefully be able to start to change the culture of ACP in local healthcare facilities and systems as these students begin going into the work force. If this program continues to be beneficial, USI hopes to implement this training and education for all nurses that go through the program.