C-TAC News

The Blog to Transform Advanced Care

Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.

C-TAC Exclusive Event: Dr. Gloria Thomas Anderson and the Importance of Advanced Care Planning in African American Communities

Last month, C-TAC hosted a fascinating Member Meet-Up where Dr. Gloria Thomas Anderson from the “Let’s Talk About ACP” initiative highlighted the importance of sparking and sustaining dialogue around advanced care illness preparation and end-of-life planning within faith-based organizations in African American communities.  

Dr. Anderson opened the discussion by detailing the origins of the “Let’s Talk About ACP” initiative and why programs like it are so necessary. She noted that conversations about end-of-life in African American families are often met with hesitancy and mistrust because of cultural norms and the long history of discrimination in healthcare for African Americans. Recognizing this, she and her team developed the ‘Let’s Talk About ACP” program to normalize having these conversations in black communities, opting to do so through faith-based venues to ensure community members feel safe and supported. Here’s what Dr. Anderson had to say about the importance of the black church and its role in this initiative:

“The reason we are approaching this advanced care program through faith-based initiatives is because the ‘black church is considered a primary community source of trust that serves the community in all of the areas of wellbeing, including spiritual, social, health, and educational … (Rowland & Isaac-Savage, 2014).’ Another important thing to note is that ‘85% of African Americans hold some type of spiritual or religious beliefs, and that has been shown as a way to influence healthcare decision making, especially at the end of life (Pew Research, 2021).’ That is the foundational reason why I have developed this program.” – Dr. Gloria Thomas Anderson

The initiative utilizes a culturally relevant train-the-trainer model to empower and educate facilitators in faith and community-based organizations and help engage their communities in conversations around end-of-life care and advanced care planning. Informed by Dr. Anderson’s CDC-recommended, patient-centered ACP resource book, The African American Spiritual and Ethical Guide to End-of-Life-Care: What Y’all Gon’ Do With Me?, the outcomes from the first virtual workshops have been very encouraging, showing an increase in community member’s readiness and confidence to have conversations with their loved ones and medical professionals about end-of-life and make preparations accordingly. To speak to the impact that these workshops have had on their communities, Pastor Sandy Wainright of Heaven Sent Outreach Ministries described the role they’ve had in the Kansas City area:

“Here in Kansas City, we have been blessed to hold two ACP sessions, including one in November 2020 with Pastors & Leaders from Kansas and Missouri. So many have expressed a great appreciation for hosting an opportunity for them to learn about advanced care planning in a safe/trusted, non-intimidating way.  Many felt that, after this training, they were then able to go back to their families and loved ones to begin this discussion and start making plans to eliminate the stress their loved ones would have to experience at the end of life…”

– Pastor Sandy Wainright

The “Let’s Talk About ACP” initiative is an exemplary model for how to empower and inform our communities to deliver thoughtful and compassionate end-of-life care. C-TAC was thrilled to host Dr. Anderson and will continue to advocate for her and all others working to make advanced care planning and conversations about end-of-life more accessible and equitable. To close, Dr. Anderson wanted to shout out a “Let’s Talk About ACP” facilitator who has gone above and beyond in her community:

“Let’s Talk About ACP” Facilitator Shoutout: Mrs. Terrie James Taylor:

Mrs. Taylor is the Outreach Director at Montgomery Hospice and is a certified “Let’s Talk About ACP” facilitator, having conducted ACP training for 13 ministries in one of the oldest black churches in Montgomery County, MD. Along with this, she’s also co-branded the booklet with several home health agencies who will become facilitators of the program. After nearly 30 years of devoted service in hospice care, Mrs. Taylor continues to be an invaluable member of her community and is currently working with seniors in Prince George’s County on ACP education.

Written By Matt Reasor – Partnerships and Program Intern