If you were suddenly injured in an accident or became seriously ill, who would know your choices in health care?
If you have strong beliefs about what you want to happen in your future, it is vitally important to make your choices known now.
No matter what age, we should all make our wishes know to our family, friends and doctor. It can be difficult to talk about what might happen if we become unwell, but it will give both you and those closest to you, peace of mind knowing your wishes will be respected.
Why Should You Plan Ahead?
The Emergency Department is not the place to have these conversations.
Four in ten people will not be able to make their own end of life medical decisions.
So the treatment and care you may receive in the future is in line with your specified wishes. If your treatment preferences are not known, health professionals may use aggressive treatments that you may not have wanted.
Those closest to you won’t have to make difficult decisions on your behalf without knowing what you would have wanted.
What Is Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning promotes care that is consistent with your goals, values, beliefs and preferences.
This planning means thinking and making choices now to guide your future health care. An accident, illness or aging may at some time make it hard for you to make decisions about your health care.
Planning ahead can mean:
Discussing your future health care and end of life choices with your family, friends and doctors. Planning for the future is a normal part of life, so you shouldn’t be afraid to raise the subject! Yet less than 15% of Australians have documented their preferences.
Completing an Advance Health Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney, and advising your appointed decision makers of where they will be stored.
Advance Care Planning applies to all health care services. You can take your documents with you to all health care services, including public and private hospitals, your GP and any other health services you may access.
An Advance Health Directive
This is a legal document that states your decisions and directs your future health care in specific situations for a time when you may be unable to communicate.
Advance Care Directives differ between states and territories. Some state governments have specific forms that you can use. You can learn more about the legal differences by state/territory and requirements by browsing here for advance care planning for your state or territory. Advance Care Planning.org.au
Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document where you appoint a person of your choice to manage your assets and financial affairs if you are unable to do so due to illness, an accident or your absence.
A medical power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about your medical treatment if you become mentally or physically incapable of deciding for yourself.
Powers of Attorney differ between states and territories. Find out more here – Advance Care Planning.org.au
How To Start The Conversation
Choose a quiet location, so you know that you won’t be interrupted, and allow sufficient time. Be patient and take your time, as everyone involved may need time to think and express themselves.
Sometimes you might get a bit sidetracked and that’s fine. Let the conversation flow naturally. You don’t need to talk about everything at once, as Advance Care Planning is an ongoing conversation.
Starting the discussion can be the most challenging part, and Your Life Talks have designed Conversation Starter Cards & Booklets to help kick-start the process and keep a record.
Purchase Your Life Wishes Conversation Starter Cards & Booklets from our SHOP.