NEW YORK, May 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, Inc. has awarded a grant to the Westchester End-of-Life Coalition to support Can We Talk?, an educational program for Jewish congregational leaders in Westchester County to promote conversations about advance care planning for health care in a Jewish context with their congregants. The program's goal is to improve the end-of-life experience for Jewish congregants in Westchester by encouraging and facilitating advance care planning conversations and documentation. Stephanie Garry, Chief Administrative Officer of Plaza Jewish Community Chapel "is honored to continue our mission of supporting those working in end-of-life care with innovative and thoughtful conversations."
A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Public Health revealed that more than 60 percent of American adults have considered how they want their end-of-life wishes to be respected; yet only about a third of them had completed advance directives. At the end of life, people who do not have advance directives and who have not had the robust discussion of values that make such directives meaningful, risk having medical treatments that run counter to their values and wishes. In addition, this places enormous emotional and psychological burdens upon loved ones who must make decisions on their behalf.
Can We Talk? Will work with Jewish leaders to guide their congregants in having meaningful, values-based discussions with their families, medical caregivers, and appointed health care agents. Congregants will learn, through their religious leaders, how to communicate their end-of-life wishes to those close to them and to their medical caregivers. They will be guided in the reconciliation of their personal values regarding the end of life with relevant Jewish values and doctrine.
Advisers for the project include bioethicist Bruce Jennings; former WJCS Pathways To Care program coordinator Heidi Weiss; Westchester Jewish Council Executive Director Elliot Forchheimer; Center for Aging in Place President Lois Steinberg; former UJA-Federation of NY executive Sally Kaplan; Narrative Medicine specialist Patricia Stanley; and Marsha Hurst, PhD, of Columbia University's Program in Narrative Medicine. The program will be directed by Julie Buyon, who most recently served as Services Director for the MAC Angels Foundation, assisting families living with ALS and is the Vice President of the Westchester End-of-Life Coalition.
About Westchester End-of-Life Coalition Founded in 2003 as a community-based coalition comprised of individuals who live and work in Westchester County, WELC expands awareness of the importance of end-of-life issues and informs professionals and the public about available services. WELC works toward a community where all at the end of life understand their choices, have access to compassionate care and support, and are able to end their days in a manner consistent with their values.
In 2014 WELC launched LiveWithCare.org, whichprovides information and resources (local and national) about being prepared for and living with serious illness in Westchester County. In addition, WELC has two long running projects promoting advance care and personal planning - the Everybody Needs a Proxy campaign (introduced in 2005) and the Be Prepared Kit (introduced in 2008). Can We Talk? is an extension of WELC's advance care planning projects. Free community events, including book readings, panel discussions, and films on relevant topics are an ongoing part of WELC's programming.
About Plaza Jewish Community Chapel The mission of Plaza Jewish Community Chapel is to ensure that every member of the Jewish Community receives a dignified and respectful Jewish funeral; to lower the high cost of funerals by eliminating the profit motive and commercialism so often associated with the funeral industry; and to provide appropriate connections to Jewish communal resources that the bereaved may need to cope with emotional or practical problems. For further information contact Stephanie Garry at 212-769-4400.