Compassion and Support


Patients & Families

Choose a Spokesperson

 View the Community Conversations on Compassionate Care Video
It is important to choose a Health Care Spokesperson (the “Agent” identified in the “Health Care Proxy”) because this person will assure that your wishes are carried out based on your previously expressed and discussed values and beliefs. In addition, you should also choose an Alternate (the “Alternate Agent” identified in the Health Care Proxy”) to substitute if your primary Spokesperson (“Agent”) is unable or unavailable.

You indicate your Spokesperson (“Agent”) and Alternate using a legal document called the New York Health Care Proxy form. This form identifies your Spokesperson (“Agent”) – the individual you have designated to make decisions about your medical care – including decisions about life support – if you are unable to make health care decisions and can no longer speak for yourself, in accordance with your wishes.

This person must:
  • Meet legal criteria (competent adult, at least 18 years old)
  • Be willing to speak on your behalf
  • Be willing to act on your wishes
  • Be able to separate his/her own feelings from yours
  • Live close by or be willing to come
  • Know you well
  • Understand what is important to you
  • Be willing to talk with you now about sensitive wishes
  • Be willing to listen to your wishes
  • Be able to work with those providing your care to carry out your wishes
  • Be available in the future
  • Be able to handle potential conflicts between your family, friends
  • Be able to handle responsibility
Your Spokesperson (“Agent”) may be required to speak for you in a variety of circumstances. These situations might include those in which your desires may not mesh with the opinions and beliefs of either your Spokesperson (“Agent”) or others concerned about your welfare. Discussion with a potential Spokesperson (“Agent”) before hand will help you feel confident that the person chosen for this function is the best one to speak for you when you cannot do so.

View a list of questions for the person you might designate as your spokesperson.