What Matters Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic

What Matters Materials & Resources

What Matters Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 health crisis has brought major changes to our lives—sheltering in place, physical distancing, and other new routines. But this situation also gives us the opportunity to start meaningful conversations with our loved ones and other important people in our lives about what matters most to each of us. We can prepare ahead of any crisis by developing an advance care plan, communicating our health care wishes, and completing our New York State documentation. All these may be more important now than ever.

We are all concerned about receiving the medical care we need and want. What happens if you are no longer able to make health care decisions on your own behalf? New York State allows you to name an individual (as well as an alternate) whom you trust to advocate and make decisions on your behalf and to document this information in a New York State Health Care Proxy

What Matters has a number of trained facilitators who can help you

  • Consider what your health care wishes would be, decide who to designate as your healthcare agent, and communicate your wishes
  • Start a conversation with family, friends, or other important people in your life about their wishes
  • Complete an advance directive, such as the New York State Health Care Proxy, or revisit one you had previously completed
  • Answer your questions and refer you to needed resources

Things to remember

  • Your plan will only be used if you are unable to communicate when decisions need to be made. If you regain the ability to communicate, the plan is no longer used.
  • It is important to share your plans with your loved ones and other important people in your life, even if they are not your appointed decision-maker. That way, everyone is on the same page.
  • It is important to select and share your wishes with an agent whom you trust and who can represent you and speak on your behalf if you became seriously ill. We can't predict every scenario, but we can share our values and guiding principles so they can confidently make decisions for us. If we don't say it, they won't know.
  • You can change your choices whenever you want, communicating these changes to your health care agent and alternate, and your documents can be reviewed and updated after this crisis is over.
  • If you have no one to appoint as your agent, we can help you think through alternative ways to express your wishes.
  • You must take your completed documentation with you to the hospital so doctors will know who to call and the identity and contact information of your health care agent, since it is unlikely that visitors will be allowed.
  • It is advisable to attach to your health care proxy document a list of your medications, pre-existing conditions, and instructions about specific medical interventions.
  • Social distancing measures can make it harder to have your health care documents witnessed. What Matters can help you with temporary options.
  • If you wish to discuss funeral wishes and pre-arrangements, please contact one of our clergy and/or Plaza Jewish Community Chapel.


Advance Care Planning Guide - Being Prepared in the Time of COVID-19
An overview of the steps to take and questions to consider to be prepared and feel confident that your healthcare wishes will be known and respected during the pandemic, including designating an agent who can speak for you if you are unable to speak for yourself and completing the legal documentation.  

Remote Witnessing Procedure
Social distancing can pose challenges to having your health care proxy form witnessed as required by law. This document outlines the procedures for remote witnessing of your form during the pandemic, as announced by the NYS Governor's office.

Introduction to What Matters and Advance Care Planning
Welcome to What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life. This project is designed to help you clarify your goals and wishes regarding your future health care choices through individually facilitated conversations.

Health Care Agent Information Card
This is a template for a card to give the person you name as your health care agent. It includes information about what it means to be a health care agent and decisions they might have to make.

Advance Directives: Making Your Wishes Known and Honored
This guide from the New York State Office of the Attorney General includes information about advance directive forms with tips on how to use them.

New York Advance Care Directive: Planning for Important Health Care Decisions
This packet from CaringInfo contains New York State legal documents that protect your right to refuse medical treatment you do not want or to request treatment you do want, in the event you lose the ability to make decisions yourself.

New York State Health Care Proxy Form
The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. This form is legally recognized in New York State and is recommended by What Matters facilitators for documenting your wishes and instructions.

Health Care Proxy Form - Wallet card
A wallet-size, printable version of the New York State health care proxy form, that is convenient and easy to carry with you at all times. 

Understanding Advanced Care Planning as a Jewish Process
Jewish sources teach that life is sacred and that engaging in conversation leads to deeper understanding. Advance care planning and ethical wills can help clarify values that are essential to shaping end of life decision-making. Judaism has diverse perspectives on advance care planning and health care decision-making, and What Matters has developed several resources to guide individuals in their exploration.