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Thursday, December 5, 2019

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Responding to COVID-19.
We salute the hundreds of Honoring Choices Partners who rapidly responded to the State of Emergency's call to action by providing proactive planning conversations, innovative programs, and timely care and services.  Here are highlights from some of the Partner's amazing work. You can read more and download shared tools and discussion guides at Plan in Place.

Nurses Call 5000 "Extremely Grateful" Patients 

Baystate Health, Springfield. Baystate Health nurses called over 5,000 patients in their Pandemic Outreach Program, and engaged high risk adults in proactive planning conversations. At first the nurses were unsure about how the outreach calls would be received. Here's a note from one nurse to her colleagues-

"I reached out to a high risk patient this morning. We discussed how she was doing ... and checked that her Health Care Proxy was up to date. I noticed she did not have an active MOLST form in her chart. After explaining the MOLST,  she decided she would LOVE a phone visit to discuss this with her doctor... The patient was extremely grateful and wanted everyone to know how AWESOME she thought the call was, and couldn't stress enough how appreciative she was for the reach out."

Life Care Advocates on the Front Line

LifeCare Advocates care team has remained very close to their clients throughout the pandemic to support their immediate health needs, advocate for their care choices, and help families navigate the aging process in this time of uncertainty. They offer a "Brief Solution-Focused Virtual Consultation" to assist families during this challenging time. 

Palliative Care By Your Side

Hebrew Senior Life, HSL,Metrowest-Boston. Maria Castro, Palliative Care PCA, a member of the care team, has remained at the bedside providing essential care services throughout the pandemic at Hebrew Rehab Center, Roslindale. The care team of redeployed clinicians proactively contacted long term care patients in HSL facilities to discuss their wishes in the event of a COVID infection, and carefully recorded and updated patient care choices.

Alzheimer's Association has a new hub for all COVID-related resources, such as  COVID-19 tip sheets, virtual programs and specialized support groups, Covid Caring Conversations, for people living with dementia, caregivers and care professionals. 24/7 Helpline is available for around-the-clock care and support at 800.272.3900.

Helping Essential Workers Make a Plan

Amy Hudspeth Cabell, Hudspeth Cabell Law, South Shore, is making the Health Care Proxy available to essential workers and those on the "front lines” such as supermarket workers, transit drivers, and health care providers. She can assist in providing witnesses via social distancing procedures, and generously offers a companion Durable Power of Attorney document, at no charge, to those individuals.

 Caring During the Crisis

Jewish Family & Children's Services, JF&CS, Waltham, is hard at work helping the people they serve, and many others who have recently lost wages or feel lonely and isolated. They assist with emergency food, reassurance phone calls, virtual support groups, creative arts and activities programs for people with disabilities. "Your Elder Experts" helps with housing, writing and revising planning documents, and managing daily challenges. 

Taking Care of Patients & Each Other

Norwell VNA & Hospice, NVNA, SouthShore, palliative care team's smiling faces can be seen under their PPE as they make essential in-person home health, palliative care and hospice visits. NVNA provides telehealth conversations to successfully use verbal consent to complete MOLST forms. They provide weekly support to staff to manage the emotional and physical impacts of stress during this challenging time.

Using Verbal Consent to complete MOLST Forms

UMass Memorial Medical Center, Worcester has been working closely with Honoring Choices in a collaborative effort to help care providers and patients have telehealth care planning discussions, and document patient care choices using  verbal consent on MOLST forms where in-person consent is not possible. They generously shared their "MOLST Verbal Consent  Provider Procedure" as a sample for their fellow Partners and colleagues. Read more.

Virtual Bereavement Support

Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of MA, HPCFM. Grieving the loss of a loved one may be especially challenging during the COVID-19. Hospice and Palliative Care programs across the Commonwealth are providing virtual bereavement support and resources. HPCFM provides a list to contact organizations for more information and specifics about virtual bereavement support programs. HERE

Timing is Everything

Care Dimensions, North Shore will feature the Honoring Choices programs and tools on their cable show “Timing is Everything “, and their podcast “Living Forever- Not an Option” to empower adults to make a plan and reach out for good care.  Their Learning Institute has great resources and workshops on end-of-life topics. Read more here.

Supporting the Emotional Needs of Care Providers

The Betsy Lehman Center, Boston, Peer Support staff assembled a wonderful list of tools and resources for clinicians, staff, and managers to support their vital work and manage stress. View here.

Let's Grow An Herb Garden

Marlborough Council of Aging. In addition to gathering volunteers to grocery shop, pick up medications, and provide 85 seniors with hot meals weekly, the Marlborough COA offered a gardening curbside pickup to plant a herb pot garden. Seniors received an oval 12” container with soil and fresh herbs to plant and enjoy all season long!  A fun project in a tough time to keep the community connected.

Medicare Reimburses Nurses & Social Workers for ACP Conversations

Healthcentric Advisors reports that Medicare now reimburses clinical social workers, registered nurses, hospital chaplains and others, in addition to physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, to have audio (telephone) advance care planning conversations under the expanded use of ACP reimbursement codes. You can have your care team reach out to high risk patients to start proactive  conversations. Read more.

Addressing Food Insecurity

HESSCO, Sharon. To meet the expanding food insecurity need, HESSCO provided over 22,000 meals in the month of April to residents of South Norfolk County.  Before the pandemic HESSCO provides approximately 14,000 meals/month.  HESSCO is taking new referrals and continues to provide essential Meals on Wheels, In-Home Care Program, and Caregiver Specialist phone consultation.

Telehealth & Proactive Care Conversations

Valley Medical Group,Western MA, reports in addition to providing telehealth visits to their patients, all four of our health centers remain open for in-house appointments to provide essential care. Their ACP Committee is supporting staff with planning tools for themselves and to engage patients in proactive telehealth planning conversations to complete a Health Care Proxy and MOLST.

Virtual Caregiver & Grief Support Groups 

HopeHealth, SouthShore is providing home care, palliative care and hospice care 24/7 and supporting the community with specialty virtual support groups, including a a grief support group, Dementia Caregiver and General Caregiver Virtual Support groups. 

Addressing the demand for care & services

Minuteman Senior Services, Bedford, is busy meeting the increased demand for information on food, medicine, and essential transportation and resources. They continue to deliver hot lunches to home bound seniors through Meals on Wheels. The Home Care, Nursing, and Elder Protective Services staff are supporting seniors who are experiencing increased anxiety, loneliness, and vulnerability to abuse. They provide 1 to 1 support for Family Caregivers and connect to vital resources.

350 MA Councils on Aging #pulling together

Massachusetts Councils on Aging, MCOA. The Council on Aging doors may be closed, but services such as meals, transportation, grocery shopping, prescription delivery, online programming, senior serenades and much more are  being provided. MCOA is #pulling together, supporting the 350 COAs with information, training, online programming and the re-opening process.  

MA COVID TEAM is Calling

Let your community know to answer the call and stop the spread of COVID-19!  To verify the MA COVID Team is calling, look for calls with area code 833 or 857 ; your phone will say the call is from “MA COVID Team”. Learn more at

Thank you to all the Honoring Choices Partners! 
We are truly honored to support your work.

We'll post more "Partner News" in our July Newsletter. Our collaborative work is helping to transform health care planning and access to high quality, equitable care. Everyone is welcome!
Email Ellen,
Honoring Choices Massachusetts is a consumer focused, non-profit organization that informs, empowers and helps adults and families to make a health care plan and connect to person-directed care all through their lives. Visit us at

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