What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance care planning involves thinking about, discussing with your family and close friends, and possibly documenting what types of health care you may or may not wish to receive - if you become seriously ill and/or unable to speak for yourself. It also makes things easier for your family by preventing confusion and conflict over medical decision making. It is about people taking control of their health care wishes now and in the future. This is especially relevant near the end of life. This means your specific treatment wishes as well as your goals, values and beliefs are known and can be respected by health providers and those closest to you.
Ideally advance care planning involves:
1. Appointing a person, known as a substitute decision maker, who can make health care decisions for you if your are too unwell to do this for yourself.
2. Writing your wishes down in an advance care directive, sometimes known as a "living will".
Who should consider Advance Care Planning?
All adults may wish to consider advance care planning. It is however, especially relevant for people with a chronic illness such as lung or heart disease, the healthy elderly and people with other serious and life threatening illnesses such as dementia, cancer and stroke. While well and health, it can be hard to think about treatments that might never be required, but like can change in an instant and difficult medical decisions may need to be made about you. For example, what if you were involved in a car accident, suffered a brain injury and were not going to make a full recover. If you were unable to make medical decisions when needed, who would you like to speak for you and what should they decide? These are the benefits of advance care planning.
What steps are involved with Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning can involve all or some of the following steps:
1. Think about your past health experiences.
2. Think about your beliefs, goals and values that are important in your life.
3. Think about your current health and possible future health problems.
4. Think about what you would want from future medical care.
5. Talk to your family and those close to you about these issues.
6. Talk to your doctor.
7. Choose a substitute decision maker to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do this for yourself - in Victoria this is best done by appointing a Support Person and/or Decision Maker (who becomes your agent).
8. Meet with your agent and an Advance Care Planning Facilitator.
9. Work with the Advance Care Planning Facilitator and your agent to write down your preferences in an Advance Care Directive.
10. Provide copies of your Advance Care Plan to your family, your agent, hospital and local doctor and anyone else who you feel is appropriate.
11. Review you plan as circumstances change.
Advance Care Planning documents are only ever referred to if you are unable to communicate or make informed decisions.
Advance Care Planning documents are held at Cohuna District Hospital, but copies are also held by you, your Support Person, your Decision Maker, your GP and other applicable health care facilities and doctors.
We recommend that they are stored in a sage but easily accessible, with a photocopy attached to your fridge so that Ambulance paramedics can easily access your Advance Care Plan when needed.
Then there are two ways to proceed:
1. Talk to your General Practitioner about completing the Advance Care Planning process
2. Contact Cohuna District Hospital 54 565 300 and speak with the Advance Care Planning co-ordinator Tanna Taylor or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How to get started with Advance Care Planning? You can download (see below) or we can post you an information pack to commence Advance Care Planning at home.
Advance Care Planning Booklet
Advance Care Appointment of Decision Maker
Advance Care Appointment of Support Person
Advance Care Directive Form