A #SHRM19 Interview with Five Wishes

This is a 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) interview is with Five Wishes, the provider of an advanced care planning benefit program. Below is a quick Q&A with Joanne Eason, the Vice President of Partner Relations.

What is Five Wishes at Work!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at #SHRM19 in Las Vegas.

The Five Wishes at Work program is a comprehensive, person-centered advance care planning benefit program that offers employers a proven, easy-to-use approach to providing a useful and inexpensive benefit to their employees. The program works for large companies, small businesses, and all other settings. Most of the program components are customizable based on your specific needs, the size of your business, and how advance care planning fits you’re your workflow.

The hallmark of the Five Wishes at Work program is its simplicity and clarity. Just as the Five Wishes advance directive document is widely known for being easy to follow and understand, the full program includes easy to use, turn-key, scalable tools and resources, which include:

  • Employee package
  • Two Five Wishes advance directives per employee
  • One Conversation Guide for Individuals and Families
  • Customized packaging with a letter from your organization detailing your commitment to your employees’ wellness

Support and internal marketing

  • Implementation Guide
  • Telephone support for your implementation team and employees
  • Online dashboard to access articles and information for internal marketing
  • Presenter’s Guide and customizable PowerPoint for team meetings
  • Promotional flyers and infographics on the value of advance care planning and caregiver issues
  • Tools to assist in engaging your community in advance care planning
  • Sample program launch communications and calendar

Let us in on the magic. How do you utilize your own Five Wishes processes to ensure your employees will be taken care of?

One of the benefits provided to all employees is free Five Wishes for life for them and their families. In this way, our workplace already helps team members create their own plan of care and for the advance care needs of their family members, in the same way that Five Wishes at Work allows employers to implement advance care planning.

However, the real magic happens in the work that we do every single day. We really believe in the mission of our organization: To safeguard and affirm the human dignity of every person who faces the challenges of aging, serious illness, disability or loneliness. Every minute we spend at work, is a minute we spend talking to people in crisis, supporting caregivers, advising businesses, or assisting healthcare providers. At the end of the day, our goal is to make a difference by helping to make dignified care a reality for all.

Five Wishes is all about conversations. How do you carry that importance on communication throughout the workplace?

Five Wishes is a complete approach to discussing and documenting your care and comfort choices. It’s about connecting families, communicating with healthcare providers, and showing your community what it means to care for one another. The conversations that we have with individuals and organizatins are the most important way that we learn, grow, and are rewarded in our work. Oftentimes, a meaningful conversation can mean a world difference to the person on the other end of the line.

Conversations have a crucial place in our workflow as well. Each morning, the Five Wishes family begins by gathering together and sharing what is on our minds, hearts, and schedule for the day. With a small office, we rely heavily on communication to ensure that our daily efforts are successful and that every person we come into contact with receives the best possible support.

What are the biggest challenges companies face when encouraging their employees to plan ahead? How do they overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenges faced by companies in encouraging employees to plan ahead are actually the same faced by anyone who is trying to engage others in difficult conversations: no one likes to think about their own mortality. This can be amplified by cultural or religious beliefs, as well as a basic misunderstanding of what advance care planning really is.

However, these challenges can be overcome by relying on the support and guidance provided by the Five Wishes at Work program. Not only will employees be provided with their very own conversation guide for individuals & families, which provides ice-breakers, suggested language, and other conversational tools, but employers will have access to engagement tools, presenter’s guides, and sample outreach materials. Of course, both employees and employers should feel free to call and talk to one of the Five Wishes representatives; we are always happy to answer questions, make suggestions, and provide any other necessary support.

What do you wish more HR professionals and recruiters knew about advance care planning?

Responsive to a need: It is a fact that healthcare costs continue to rise in America. It is also a fact that, unlike many other countries, employers are the primary providers of healthcare for Americans. This means that employers have a vested interest in promoting the well-being of their employees and their families. With a rapidly aging population, more and more individuals and families are affected by chronic illness, time off for elder care, increased healthcare expenses, and more. While most people agree that advance care planning conversations are important, only about one third of Americans have completed an ACP document and many don’t know where to find information about advance care planning. Employers have the opportunity to respond to this need by including it as one of the many health and wellness initiatives that they provide to their employees

Reduces healthcare costs, absenteeism, & presentism: As the baby-boomer generation ages, much of the workforce is suddenly in great need of eldercare resources for their aging parents, as well as themselves. For example, two thirds of caregivers are employed. Of those, 37 pecent have needed to reduce their work hours or take time off to fulfill their caregiving duties. Because advance care planning helps individuals document their care preferences, it is associated with fewer days out of work, reduces caregiver stress, and decreases unwanted healthcare costs.

For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the Five Wishes booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?

Five Wishes at Work is:

  • Easy to Implement: Rather than being a stand-alone document, Five Wishes at Work encompasses a complete, turn-key program designed with the help of human resource professionals with their specific needs in mind. The program is fully developed and can be seamlessly implemented into any workplace with minimal time, money, and effort.

  • Proven effective: Five Wishes is the nation’s most popular advance directive (“living will”), with more than 35 million copies in national circulation.  A proven 20-year record of success with businesses of all sizes.
  • Support-based: Five Wishes encourages everyone to engage in meaningful advance care planning conversations with their family, friends, physicians, among others. To help facilitate these discussions, Conversation Guides are available, as are online training modules and one-on-one consultations with staff.

  • Easy to understand & culturally diverse: Whereas many legally binding advance care planning documents are written in complicated legal and medical language, Five Wishes is written clearly and in everyday language. Available in 29 different languages and considerate of cultural morays.

  • Cost-conscious: Unlike other advance care planning documents, Five Wishes provides a legally binding document at an affordable cost. For pennies a day per employee, Five Wishes at Work makes an advance care planning initiative accessible to all businesses, regardless of size. Additionally, research has demonstrated that wellness initiatives actually help decrease unwanted healthcare costs, decrease unplanned absences, and increase work productivity.

Visit the Five Wishes booth #3005 at #SHRM19!



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