Advance Care Planning Week: Avoid Distress & Suffering; Plan Ahead

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National Advance Care Planning Week. Regardless of age or health status, we encourage and support all Australians to make their future health care preferences known.

Advance Care Planning Week: Plan Ahead to Avoid Distress & Suffering

© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions


Let’s say you are in your 90s and in hospital with non-verbal dementia receiving treatment for an antibiotic-resistant infection via a cannular and low electrolytes through an intravenous potassium drip. You start pulling out the tubes to put an end to your treatment.

Without an advance care directive or family intervention advising otherwise, the doctor in charge will restrain you and replace the tubes as hospital guidelines focus on diagnosis and treatment to cure and discharge the patient.

This scenario, along with three other similar scenarios, were experienced by Dr Merran Cooper in one day during her regular hospital ward rounds:


The distress and suffering experienced by patients in these commonly occurring scenarios moved Dr Cooper to set up a service  called Touchstone Life Care[1] offering Australians digital advance care plans.


The digital plan notes down your end of life wishes and can be quickly and easily accessed by hospitals, doctors and family members to ensure your wishes are respected.

Touchstone Life Care | Digital Advance Care Planning for Aged CareThis discussion comes to the fore as this week is National Advance Care Planning Week[2], 21 to 27 March 2022. Hosted by Advance Care Planning Australia, this year’s theme poses the questions:

“If you were too unwell to speak for yourself,
who would speak for you and what would they say?”


In Dr Cooper’s scenarios, where there is no advance care directive and no family present, the doctor in charge will have the say and it will be to pull out all stops to keep you alive.

Doctors put forward a number of factors[3] that lead them to the conclusion that it is often much easier to continue treatment than talk with patients and families about the end of life.

The factors include: not having the time and private space for such conversations; lack of the necessary communication skills and training to embark on such conversations, noting that junior doctors are often in charge of the patient’s day-to-day care, particularly out of hours; and personal factors such as fear of complaints and litigation.

To avoid unnecessary distress and suffering, it is up to the individual to plan ahead. With National Advance Care Planning Week in full swing, there is no better time to:

  • Start having the discussion with family about your end of life wishes

  • Create your advance care plan

  • Upload your plan to your My Health Record, provide a copy to family members, your GP and solicitor, and consider the digital service provided by Touchstone Life Care.


Australia is considered a ‘death denying’ society[3] where many people are reluctant to consider their own mortality and talk with their families about their end of life wishes.

Being a death denying society is a problem. Unnecessary physical, emotional and spiritual distress arises from unwanted medical treatment and, of course, continued invasive and ineffective investigations and treatments come at a financial cost to society.

If you are in your 50s and 60s and have not yet put in place an advance care plan, it is advisable to do so. It is also critical to ensure your plan can be easily accessed.

The key to quality living in your senior years is to plan ahead and get your affairs in order WELL BEFORE a life event occurs. This is the DR Care Solutions message and a core part of our service.

Danielle is often invited to speak to community groups on the importance of advance care planning and welcomes the opportunity to deliver this message to your group. To find out more about Danielle's speaking engagements, please click through below:

DR Care Solutions Speaking Engagements



[1] Touchstone Life Care
[2] National Advance Care Planning Week
[3] Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care: Safety & Quality of End-Of-Life Care in Acute Hospitals


Danielle Robertson

Danielle Robertson

Working with you and your support network to get the right care outcomes for you and your loved ones. Danielle Robertson is founder and CEO of DR Care Solutions, offering aged care and disability care concierge services and expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place. Danielle's experience in the Australian care sector spans over three and a half decades. Now that's a lot of experience, wisdom and networks!