Advance Care Planning: A Must in Palliative Care

Hospice of the Western Reserve works with families from all walks of life, including end-of-life care professionals themselves. Ruth Ludwick is a registered nurse and a Ph.D. with a research focus in advance care planning. Her mother went through palliative care followed by hospice, and her husband John is in palliative care and a hospice graduate. With her knowledge and her family experience, Ruth is a remarkable advocate for our palliative care services.

Hospice of the Western Reserve provides palliative care through its Western Reserve Navigator program. This program allows those with a serious or advanced illness to continue treatments and testing while still receiving symptom management and support services. Navigator works collaboratively with physicians, offers emotional support for the family, and helps facilitate advance care planning conversations.

Palliative care and advance care planning go hand in hand, as the decisions determine what kind of care the patient wants to receive. Because of palliative care support, Ruth’s mother was not hospitalized during the last four years of her life and was able to age comfortably in her own home. Her husband has not been hospitalized since 2017.

Ruth has been researching advance care planning since 2010. She urges families to have these conversations routinely, revisiting them during life milestones.

“As your situations change and your life changes, this provides an opportunity for you to evaluate what your quality of life can be,” she says.

A unique form of support through the Navigator program was identified by a volunteer who has monthly visits with John. Through her visits, Volunteer Carol Kamphuis learned how much he enjoyed fishing. Carol mentioned this to the Navigator Volunteer Services Manager who connected the Ludwicks with Volunteer Leigh Harrington.

Leigh is a skilled HWR volunteer, military veteran, end-of-life Doula, and a volunteer educator. In a small world turn of events, he ended up knowing the Ludwick family from Ruth’s time as a faculty member at Kent State University. This fall, he and John were able to enjoy a fishing trip together.


Ruth highly recommends the protective measures of palliative care and advance care planning, which can prevent crisis and promote peace of mind.

“It can be one crisis after another if you do not have the proper support,” says Ruth. “Even if you don’t think you need anything, palliative care is there when you do need it, as opposed to when you are in total crisis. Planning ahead is one of the best gifts you can give to your loved one, yourself, and your family.”

For more information on the Western Reserve Navigator program, call 800.707.8922.
For more information on HWR volunteer opportunities, call 216.255.9090, email, or visit

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