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Five Wishes and Faith Communities: A Natural Fit

Faith communities of all traditions use Five Wishes because it is the only advance directive that deals with spiritual matters in addition to medical decisions. It assists health care providers in respecting an individual’s religious beliefs and traditions in case he or she becomes seriously ill. It also emphasizes the important role of faith communities during times of serious illness, and affirms the God-given human dignity of every person.

Churches, synagogues and other faith communities are on the front lines when someone is sick and near the end-of-life. Families turn to their pastor, priest or rabbi for guidance, consolation and prayer during times of serious illness. It makes sense that places of worship would raise the issue of advance care planning to help understand what members would want if they experience a health crisis.

When people complete Five Wishes, they clearly choose and document whether or not they would like visitors; if they would like to be prayed for; if they would like scripture or sacred text read aloud to them; if they wish to seek or grant forgiveness; if they wish to express their love to family members; and if they would like a memorial service. Some clergy have asked their congregants to complete Five Wishes and return it to them so they will have access to the document when visiting in the hospital.

Five Wishes owes much of its success to the many places of worship that were among the first to embrace Five Wishes in their congregations. Of the 40,000 organizations nationwide that distribute Five Wishes, the largest single type of distributor is places of worship.

For more information on how Five Wishes can work in your church, synagogue or temple, complete the form below to be placed on our mailing list for important Advance Care Planning information.

Five Wishes: Helping Organizations serve Employees, Members and Customers

Five Wishes, America’s most popular advance directive, is a valuable yet inexpensive resource that can be used in a variety of ways. That’s why organizations such as the US Department of State, American Express Financial Advisors, Walter Reed Medical Center, the National Education Association, Fannie Mae and thousands of other organizations have distributed Five Wishes to their employees. 

Organizations of all industries and sizes find Five Wishes of great value because it speaks to concerns common among different groups. 

Businesses – Eighty percent of companies surveyed say addressing end-of-life-issues with their employees is important. Five Wishes helps employers provide employee eldercare support, which helps to reduce employee absenteeism and increase productivity. May employers include Five Wishes as a low-cost benefit and also distribute it during annual “benefit fairs” and during open enrollment periods. 

Education Five Wishes is used as a teaching tool in medical, nursing, gerontology and social work programs in colleges and universities. For many in undergraduate programs, Five Wishes is their first encounter with issues of aging, illness and death. Many university-affiliated health and ethics policy centers commend Five Wishes as a step forward in improving end-of-life care.

Faith Based – Places of worship distribute ​Five Wishes to their congregants because it assists health care providers in respecting their religious beliefs. Although it is not religious document, Five Wishes emphasizes personal and spiritual matters and the important role of faith communities during times of serious illness. 

Financial & Insurance – Whether it’s advising clients on retirement issues or developing an estate plan, financial planners and insurance agents look to Five Wishes as an excellent tool in developing a complete financial strategy. Many financial representatives use Five Wishes in community outreach presentations and as leave behinds during consultations. 

Funeral Services – Many funeral providers use Five Wishes to help families begin the pre-planning discussion.  It’s also an excellent companion to NFDA’s “Have a Talk of a Lifetime” campaign in that it continues the discussion of “what you want your loved ones to know.” 

Health Care – Health care providers use Five Wishes because it improves communication with patients and caregivers, saves times and frees health care professionals from having to provide treatment the patient doesn’t want. Five Wishes sends a positive message about dignity, comfort and personal relationships, which is why many hospitals and physicians distribute it at health fairs and community events. 

Hospice – Hospices and palliative care organizations use Five Wishes in their community education and outreach efforts and upon admission. It allows those nearing the end of their live to clearly state how they want to be treated, how their pain is to be managed, and what their family members and others are to know. Many hospices have found that Five Wishes helps the patient’s family better deal with an impending death – and grieving – because family members know they are doing what their loved wanted. 


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