National Advance Care Planning Week (20-26 March) is a timely reminder for everyone to make time to open the conversation around their future health care preferences, ensuring that when you need support the most, your voice will be heard.
Resthaven Palliative Care Clinical Nurse, Karen Gregory (pictured above), says, ‘My hope is that people become more comfortable with talking about death and dying, and planning for their future wishes to be known.’
‘This view is supported by the End of Life Direction for Aged Care (ELDAC) and Advance Care Planning Australia, who advise that everyone over the age of 18 should be reaching out to their loved ones and their health care professional to discuss and make an advance care plan.’
‘Having your future wishes in place ensures that your preferences are made clear and accessible to family and health care professionals, should you be in a situation where you cannot communicate your needs.’
‘Unfortunately, sometimes a person’s preferences are not communicated, but with more knowledge and education, we can change this. A good place to start, is by being open to having a conversation with your loved ones,’ Karen says.
‘This can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it means that, should the worst happen, family are not faced with the added stress of making choices on your behalf.’
‘Once you and your family have discussed and have an understanding of your preferences, it is a suitable time to book an appointment with your health care provider to explore your options.’
‘This process varies on a case-by-case basis and can range from noting resuscitation preferences, to discussing specific risks associated with a pre-existing condition. It’s important to understand that these sessions are tailored to your cultural beliefs, values, preferences, and individual circumstances.’
‘I can tell you that the thought of having the conversation is usually worse than having it. And once you’ve done it, you can live with the peace of mind that if the time comes, everything is in place for your wishes to be carried out with the best care possible.’
‘The main message is to have the conversation early and talk about it. Be open and be heard,’ Karen says.
Need additional support? Check out ELDAC’s new Home Care App, providing accessible, up to date information, guidance, and resources to get you started.