Never Stop Learning

So part of the benefit of working in Washington, DC is that on any given day, there are experts talking about really interesting and applicable advocacy ideas. I was lucky enough to attend two different seminars this week on advocacy strategy. One was presented by the Public Affairs Council on Digital Media Monitoring, and the other was presented by Advocacy Leaders Network and the Congressional Management Foundation on Psychology in Advocacy. I will spare you all of the nerdy details (that I excitedly blurted out at Tony when I got back to the office), but here are some interesting tidbits I think you all will enjoy:

Polling is a tricky mix of math, language, and psychology
Polling is a tricky mix of math, language, and psychology
  1. Congressmen LOVE site visits. They listed it as the number one most influential activity that an advocate can take in the district.
  2. Social Media is a valued form of constituent communication. Congressmen are starting to value advocacy via social media just as highly, if not more so, than emails and phone calls. In-person meetings with personal stories will always be the gold standard, but it only takes 10-15 good social media posts on an issue to get attention of an office.
  3. Share it! “Liking” a post on Facebook or “favoriting” a post on Twitter is good….but the more important action an advocate can take is to Share or Retweet something so that the message reaches a wider audience.
  4. Your Parent’s are To Blame: From the Psychology of Advocacy: did you know that there are about 9 different types of political worldviews? and that they are heavily influenced by the type of parenting you had a child? People tend to look for leaders who, in either subliminal or more obvious ways, mimic their parents.
  5. Preconceptions REALLY matter in advocacy. A recent poll was conducted that took traditionally Republican policies, and labeled them as Democrat policies. People who self-reported as a Democrat then ranked those policies favorably. They did the same thing with traditionally Democrat policies, and labeled them Republican policies. People who self-reported as Republican then ranked those issues favorably. The same poll was then conducted with the policies being labeled correctly, and as one would guess, Republicans ranked the policies labeled Republican high, and those labeled Democrat low. Same for the Democrats, even though they were the exact same policies that they had ranked the exact opposite in the first poll. Lesson here? Discuss your issues without using language, people, or ideologies that may hit your audience’s biases. If something is presented as belonging specifically to one party, or one ideology, or one partisan person, people may disregard it even if absent those indicators, they would have supported it. (Humans are strange, huh?)

The Pope Addresses Congress: Engaging with Legislators on a Spiritual Level

Pope Francis speaks at a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House. Photo Credit: ABC News
Pope Francis speaks at a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House. Photo Credit: ABC News

Pope Francis landed in Washington, DC yesterday, and today became the first Pope to address a joint meeting of the US Congress. Regardless of their personal religious affiliation, many Members of Congress have been expressing their appreciation of the Pope and experiencing a sense of heightened spirituality. While separation of church and state is a central tenet of our democracy, many legislators do draw on their faith when addressing difficult issues, and many will make overtly religious statements during campaigns. A legislator’s spiritual beliefs can be a help, or a hindrance, when it comes to discussing care options at the end-of-life. Certain religious traditions have strong beliefs about medical treatment, end-of-life traditions and prohibitions, and rules for grief that govern surviving family members.

When you are working with a Member of Congress with a strong spiritual belief, it is necessary that you consider how that belief may affect their perception of your issue. It may be helpful to reach out to members of that faith community to discuss with them their concerns, their traditions, and any questions they may have on your issue. Having them on your side could be a big help when you are lobbying your Member of Congress. Additionally, some faith communities are already very active in the hospice/palliative care movement, and they may have hospice chaplains or other spiritual members of their IDT that could be key influencers for you and should accompany you on meetings with the Member.

Have you been able to successfully connect with a legislator through non-traditional means? Let us know in the comments!

The Ballad of Howard and Laura

A touching video has surfaced showing how hospice can help make life beautiful, even in its final days. Howard and Laura have been married for 73 years, and as their granddaughter Erin explains, “Laura (Grandma) is at a hospice facility making peace with her final days…I was lucky enough to capture this precious, heart-melting moment between the two of them. Howard (Grandpa) is singing to her their love song, the song that comforted her when he went away to fight in World War II.”

This picture of Howard and Laura was taken by their granddaughter, Erin Solari, and shared via Facebook.
This picture of Howard and Laura was taken by their granddaughter, Erin Solari, and shared via Facebook.

“It began to go viral and all the outpouring of love lifted everyone’s spirits… including Grandma’s!” Solari wrote. “They originally gave her just a week to live, but hospice eventually deemed her well enough to go back home to live out her remaining few days. As of this posting my beautiful Grandma Laura Virginia is still with us resting peacefully at home. Our family along with the wonderful people from hospice are taking care of her and making sure she remains as pain-free and comfortable as possible while she prepares for her nearing departure. We all thank you so much for the love and kind words.”

It is stories like this that reaffirm for me the importance of ensuring that all Americans have access to hospice, and are given the opportunity to plan for hospice  as an end-of-life option. The Care Planning Act, The Hospice Care Access Improvement Act, and the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA) are all important legislative actions to support that can help ensure that more Americans can have beautiful end-of-life experiences like Howard and Laura.

Are you Registered to Vote?

Today is National Register to Vote Day! Help hospice  be a voice at the polls and vote in legislators who support the Care Planning Act, PCHETA, the Hospice Care Access Improvement Act, and more!

Additionally, we know all of our Hospice Advocates pay close attention to the legislative battles in the Federal government, but many of the decisions that affect medical practice, reimbursement, patient access, and more are also fought on the state level. State and local elections get historically low turn-out, as do non-Presidential year elections, so if you have ever felt like your vote didn’t count….it certainly counts a lot more when a majority of other people are staying home! Make sure you get to those less-popular election days, and take today to make sure that your voter registration is up to date!

The Most Interesting Hospice Clinician in the World….


CTC Meme


We are counting down to the Clinical Team Conference in October in Grapevine, Texas! Our own Manager of Grassroots Advocacy, Tony Kudner, and Judi Lund Person, Vice President, Regulatory, Leadership, and Compliance will be in attendance! Obviously the conference touches on more than just advocacy and regulatory issues, but there are several offerings on that topic:

Regulatory & Compliance, Quality Assessment

Additionally, the Regulatory Queen Jennifer Kennedy will be holding Office Hours: make an appointment and get your most difficult regulatory questions answered in person! You might even get her autograph!


Have a Regulatory topic that you don’t see in the list of sessions at this year’s CTC? Let us know! We know a guy who knows a guy who works with Jennifer Kennedy….we may just be able to get you an answer. (Or you can just email her).