Making an Impact: Human Development and Relationships August 2021

Jane Jensen, Human Development & Relationships Educator

The HDR Educator approached the Washington County Extension HDR Educator to collaborate in facilitating the pilot program Planning AHEAD in May and June of 2021 as part of a statewide effort. Planning AHEAD is a series of virtual sessions for adults where they learned about end-of-life decision-making tasks including health care wishes, financial responsibilities, legal requirements and documentation distribution of personal property, end-of-life care options, and dealing with grief. The goal of this effort is to help participants proactively learn how to manage the tasks and decisions associated with end-of-life, so they don’t feel overwhelmed and so that burdens on loved ones are reduced.

For the pilot, participants included the general public as well as partner community agency staff who work with clients in this area. The Sheboygan County ADRC Caregiver Coordinator attended the series and supported the program by promoting the series to their clientele. Over 10 attendees participated with over 70 direct contacts throughout the 7-week series. Each attendee received a workbook with recordkeeping worksheets, tools, and resources to reinforce the session content. Because of this program series, participants stated: “I like the comprehensive list of what needs to be taken care of.” and “I’m sharing highlights with my siblings as we care for our father.” Series attendees had the opportunity to participate in focus groups to provide feedback for any modifications needed to the program curriculum.

Other Highlights 

  • A Community Health Improvement Plan for community service agencies which will guide their future actions. The purpose of this larger effort is to improve the health of residents.
  • A series of e-mail communications for community partners where we provide information related to parenting, relationships, family caregiving, finances, and well-being so that they can share the latest resources with their clients. The purpose of this effort is to provide county residents with resources to improve parenting skills, support their family caregiving role, and access tools to improve their financial skills and their personal well-being.
  • A seven-session weekly series where unpaid family caregivers learn to manage stress, improve communication skills, increase their ability to make difficult decisions, and locate resources while providing care for a loved one with a chronic illness.