The New Hampshire Alliance for End of Life Options is a grassroots organization dedicated to improving end of life experiences through education, outreach and advocacy. According to Rebecca Brown, the director of NH Alliance for End of Life Options, the organization reaches out to individuals interested in end of life care.
New Hampshire Alliance for End of Life Options
“We’re a grassroots organization of people who have an interest and a passion around this based on our own experience with dying loved ones, and we feel that there needs to be better ways. Particularly better conversations, more open and honest conversations,” Brown said.
The organization advocates for legalizing medical aid in dying for people with terminal illnesses in New Hampshire and acknowledges the challenges to changing the law due to politics. However, they emphasize the need for grassroots efforts for successful implementation.
“It’s not a top-down thing that will just start in the legislature and get anywhere,” Brown added.
The alliance actively engages with professional caregivers in New Hampshire and Vermont, a critical part of their outreach efforts. Vermont legalized medical aid in dying,so the organization tries to find individuals in the Vermont caregiving community to help spread awareness and understanding.
The alliance also advocates for better conversations around end-of-life care. As patients of healthcare, individuals need to advocate for themselves better, understand what they value, what quality of life they want, and be able to have those open conversations with their loved ones and their physicians. Furthermore, death should not be seen as a failure.
“We as consumers of medicine, as patients as consumers of healthcare, we’ve got to advocate for ourselves better,” Brown said.
NH residents looking for options in VT
A recent change in Vermont law that no longer requires being a Vermont resident to access medical aid in dying increased the number of inquiries from different areas. This has led to a shortage of clinicians to cater to everyone seeking the service. The alliance encourages New Hampshire locals to reach out to them for conversations about accessing the Vermont facility.
Due to the public’s lack of understanding about hospice and palliative care, the alliance works to demystify these services and highlights their benefits. They also underline the need for these services to be available to all who desire them.
The organization also notes that medical aid in dying is often misconstrued. Some people believe it is akin to suicide or that it takes advantage of marginalized populations such as people of color or those living with disabilities. Brown set the record straight:
“There has never been any documented evidence of misuse. We respect personal autonomy, and someone living with disabilities should have the same right of autonomy as anybody else,” she said.
The alliance is drafting legislation for introduction in 2024 while building relationships within the caregiving community for effective law implementation. Their intention is to create allies to ensure better support for clinicians and citizens when the law is passed in New Hampshire.
It has a keen interest in improving the approach to end of life experiences in New Hampshire and encourages conversations and feedback from the medical community.
“We want people to poke holes in what we’re doing and make the best, the best approach for the people in New Hampshire. And that is not going to be done without people in the medical community,” Brown said.
Through continuous advocacy and education, the New Hampshire Alliance for End of Life Options is actively working to foster a culture where quality end of life experiences and choices are prioritized with respect for personal autonomy.