In this month’s Under the Microscope, we’re taking a closer look at advance care planning, SWSPHN’s important role in raising awareness and what you can do to support your patients develop an advance care plan.
What is advance care planning?
Advance care planning is the process of planning for future healthcare needs. It relates to healthcare an individual would or would not like to receive if they were to become seriously ill or injured and are unable to communicate their preferences or make decisions. This often relates to the care people receive at the end of their life.
Advance care planning gives individuals the opportunity to think about, discuss and record their preferences for the type of care they would receive and the outcomes they would consider acceptable. It helps to ensure loved ones and doctors know what their health and personal preferences are and that these preferences are respected.
Why is it important?
Advance care planning benefits everyone: the individual, their family, carers and health professionals.
- It helps to ensure individuals receive the care they actually want, it reduces unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment
- It improves ongoing and end-of-life care, along with personal and family satisfaction
- Families of people who have undertaken advance care planning have less anxiety, depression, stress and are more satisfied with care
For healthcare professionals and organisations, it increases confidence they are providing the care preferred by the individual and reduces conflict with families and carers.
Who should have an advance care plan?
Everyone should consider advance care planning, regardless of age or health.
It is particularly important if the individual is:
- has a chronic illness
- has multiple diseases
- has an early cognitive impairment
- is approaching the end-of-life
What’s the difference between advance care planning and advance care directives?
An advance care directive is sometimes known as a living will. It’s something an individual creates for themselves and involves documenting their preferences for future care. It can include their values, life goals and preferred outcomes, and directions about care and treatments. An advance care plan is created by someone else on behalf of a person with diminished or no capacity to make decisions for themselves.
What can you do to support your patients in developing an advance care plan?
GPs and care workers are encouraged to incorporate conversations about advance care planning into routine consultations with their patients, and ensure their patients’ future medical care preferences are uploaded to My Health Record.
The Advance Care Planning Australia website suggests the following triggers and conversation starters.
Online courses, workshops, webinars and support resources are available through Advance Care Planning Australia’s website.
SWSPHN also hosts CPD events relating to advance care planning. Visit our website for information about future events.
The Advance Project provides practical, evidence-based resources and training to support general practice to initiate advance care planning and palliative care. End-of-life planning (advance care planning) and palliative care are important aspects of care for people living with dementia and their families. The Advance Project has developed new online learning modules and practical resources to make initiating end-of-life conversations and assessing palliative care needs of people living with dementia easier.
How does SWSPHN raise community awareness about advance care planning?
In July we presented an event in collaboration with Wollondilly Council’s Café Connect program and End-of-life Angels. You Only Die Once was an end-of-life planning workshop at Picton. The event gave participants a better understanding of advance planning, where to find information about the subject, and made them feel more comfortable about discussing their end-of-life wishes with family and friends.
SWSPHN also creates awareness of advance care planning by hosting stalls at community events across South Western Sydney such as the Agency Exchange Day hosted by MDS at Leumeah in June. Our team will host further stalls at events in September and October to discuss advance care planning, including at the Dementia Prevention and Wellbeing Expo at Bankstown (27 September); Café Connect at Picton (4 October); Carers Pamper Day at Camden (19 October); and Grandparents Day at Oran Park (26 October).
SWSPHN promotes advance care planning through providing information, resources and links on our websites. Information about advance care planning is available for healthcare providers and community on the SWSPHN website.
Information for your patients about advance care planning is available on Health Resource Directory in a range of languages. If you’d like more information about advance care planning or our Peace of Mind project, email [email protected]