With people living longer and increasingly with complex health concerns, there’s growing public interest in advance care planning. More and more people have questions about how they can ensure their preferences are heard and respected.
Funded by the Australian Government, ACPA has operated a free nationwide advisory service since July 2014. It supports individuals, families and healthcare professionals with specialised advance care planning information, research and advice.
“It’s great to see more interest in advance care planning which previously has not been well understood in Australia. Our role is to support people to make the best choices for their life and health care, based on their personal values and beliefs. It’s what we would want for ourselves and our loved ones,” said Dr Karen Detering, Medical Director of ACPA.
The surge in call volumes is attributable to a range of factors including, increased Australian and state government focus on advance care planning and the inaugural National Advance Care Planning Week, held in April this year, where more than 100 community and health care organisations hosted awareness raising events. Also legislative changes governing advance care planning in Victoria (Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016) came into effect in March this year, stimulating an increase in calls from Victorians.
ACPA’s advisory service can help people navigate the complexities of advance care planning, offering specialist advice including; how to start the conversation, help with forms relevant to each state and territory, as well as documenting preferences in an Advanced Care Directive. They may be people with early dementia or a life-limiting disease, such cancer, who want to make plans for their future health care, people with ageing parents, as well as younger individuals keen to document their preferences in the event of an unexpected medical emergency.
“We can’t control everything about ageing, however good advance care planning can help people and their families prepare for a time when they can no longer make their own medical decisions. Just like completing a will, advance care planning can help people face the future with greater confidence, knowing that their choices will be respected,” said Dr Detering. —