Sally Kaplan, Program Director, “What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life”

Q: You recently won an award for What Matters. What sets it apart?

A:We are a faith community that is engaging in advance care planning, reaching out to the Jewish community in New York. We use the Respecting Choices model and have adapted it. 

Q: How did you find volunteers?

A: At our 15 sites, volunteers create teams responsible for conducting the conversations. We are not focused on medical interventions but rather what’s important to the individual. The volunteers can help in nursing homes when there are not enough resources.

Q: Is it culturally specific? 

A:We’ve developed resources where we asked religious clergy and professors to comment on specific end-of-life topics such as artificial nutrition and hydration, palliative care and hospice, and organ donation. But whenever we make a presentation to a group that is not Jewish, we talk about how easily it can be adapted to other religions. We are value-neutral.

Q: What should providers know? 

A:Every patient should have an advance directive. But having just the paperwork done is not sufficient. While it may be a challenge, ultimately the program is time-saving and beneficial.