National Advance Care Planning Week: Take Part & Plan In Advance
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes, as the saying goes, yet...
Around 75% of Australians do not discuss death and only 15% have documented their treatment preferences for their final days.
To overcome the well-documented anxiety and stress felt by families when a loved one is dying from a chronic or terminal illness, the Australian Government is supporting Advance Care Planning Week, from 22 to 26 March 2021.
This community initiative encourages Australians to talk about their values, beliefs and preferences when it comes to death, and document those discussions in the advance care planning forms of their State or Territory.
Refer to your State/Territory DYI forms
While you would think documenting your care wishes as you lay dying would be straightforward, think again. Each State and Territory has its own documentation, however, there is now one handy reference point on the National Advance Care Planning website and a Getting Started Guide (available here to download).
Start talking about making plans
To encourage discussion on advance planning, Advance Care Planning Week has hospitals, health networks and community organisations hosting free events around the country. There are virtual talks and morning and afternoon teas taking place. Take your pick from the events page.
Australian Government statistics remind us that the discussion around advance care planning is one to have at any age as:
- Around one third of Australian die before 75 years of age;
- Almost 50% of those dying are too unwell to make their own end-of-life medical decisions;
- Most people die after a chronic or terminal illness rather than a sudden event.
The consequences of 'no plan'
I have witnessed the distress caused to families when, in the absence of clear documented directions from the dying love one, doctors have made treatment decisions based on their assessment of the best interests of the person, rather than what the family knows that person would have wanted.
Typically, the scenarios involve a loved one falling unconscious and not able to communicate after a stroke or heart attack, and where they are not expected to get better.
What is an Advanced Care Directive?
An Advanced Care Directive, or equivalent name given by the State or Territory, is used for this scenario - where the person is unable to make or communicate their treatment decision. The Directive guides doctors on the treatment to be given as documented by the person in their Directive.
Depending on the laws of the State or Territory, the person may also appoint an Enduring Guardian or substitute decision-maker to make health and/or dental decisions on their behalf. With the Advanced Care Directive in hand, doctors will also confer with these nominated health decision-makers when deciding on the appropriate treatment.
The time to get on with advance care planning is now. Once you lose capacity, any documentation completed, will not be recognised.
For further ideas around starting the conversation in your family, please refer to my prior blogs on the subject of planning for death:
- Essential Legal Documents For Your Aged Care
- Dying To Know - Planning For Death
- Meet A Death Doula
- Case Study: Life Events When There Is No Estate Plan In Place
When to comes to finding care solutions, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.
 Advanced Care Planning Week
 Advanced Care Planning: Resources For Your State or Territory
 Advanced Care Planning: Getting Started Guide Download
 Advance Care Planning: Events To Join
 Australian Government Statistics