National Advance Care Planning Week runs from 20 – 26 March. The week is designed to create awareness about Advance Care planning and to encourage you to take action to express your preferences for treatment and care at a time when you might not be able to make decisions.
You can develop an Advance Care plan or directive regardless of your age or health status. Ideally, start planning when you are healthy, but it is particularly important if you are older or living with a chronic disease or dementia.
What is the difference between a directive and a plan?
An advance care directive is a written document where you specify what health treatments you want and do not want when you’re not able to make those decisions. You can also document your preferences for or identify a substitute decision maker if ever needed.
An advance care plan is created by someone else on behalf of a person with limited capacity to make decisions for themselves.
What is involved?
Learn about the process of creating your own plan in your state or territory via the Advance Care Planning Australia Website.
Your GP, practice nurse, or health professional can help you, but it is important to also consult with your close family/friends. You also get advice from the National Advance Care Planning Support Service on 1300 208 582 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday (AEST / AEDT).
What are the benefits of Advance Care Planning?
An Advance Care directive helps to ensure you receive the health care you want if you become seriously ill or injured, as well as end-of-life care. It also helps to ensure that a person you’ve identified, that you know and trust, is most likely to become your substitute decision maker when needed.
Having a plan will also benefit your family. Families of people who have undertaken advance care planning have less anxiety, depression, stress and are more satisfied with the care received.
How do I start?
Start by talking to your family, GP, nurse, other health workers about future situations where you might have to make health decisions (e.g. if you are no longer able to feed yourself, if you stop breathing) and what options you might have at that time. Talk about the pros and cons of those options and then plan based on your discussions.
Advance Care Planning Australia offer a range of resources to assist including conversation starters and an Advance Care Planning Getting Started Guide.
Talking to family/friends
Many people find it uncomfortable thinking about a future situation when they are very disabled or dying. But talking to your family/friends is important so they know what your future wishes are. You might also find out their thoughts and feelings around the circumstances when you can’t make decisions.
Many people take the needs and wishes of their family into consideration as part of their plans. This conversation (or conversations) can be difficult, but it’s important to start having them now.
For more information on this website
People with dementia can read the following articles:
- 5.4 Talk to your family about your future wishes
- 5.5 Plan for when you can’t make decisions
- 5.6 Your will
- 5.7 Financial planning
- 5.8 Organise important documents
Carers can read the following articles/story: