Advance Care Planning
Who would make medical treatment decisions for you if you were too sick to do this for yourself?
Families and health care practitioners are often required to make medical treatment decisions without knowing a person's preferences. In order to address this, Barwon Health has implemented the Advance Care Planning program.
A key aim of the program is to identify the individual's values and preferences regarding their health care and medical treatment, particularly around end-of-life issues, and document these in an Advance Care Directive.
Advance Care Planning:
- Promotes an individual's understanding about their future treatment options.
- Assists individuals to discuss and document their values and preferences about their future medical treatment, including end-of-life care, and complete an Advance Care Directive if they wish to.
Advance care planning is a consultation process with health care providers and family members that help you make decisions about your future health care, should you become unable to participate in medical treatment decision-making due to illness or injury.
In Victoria, the program relies on the recently implemented Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016. The Act enables a person to appoint someone who can act as his or her Medical Treatment Decision Maker and to develop an Advance Care Directive, which has statutory recognition.
Barwon Health’s Advance Care Planning program provides a service to the community of the greater Geelong region. This includes a consultation service to assist consumers to discuss and develop an Advance Care Directive and promotion of community awareness by providing a guest speaker for groups or organisations upon request.
Further information, including fact sheets and ACD documents, can be found via the following links:
MyValues is a tool that you may find useful when thinking about choices concerning your health care or medical intervention.
As a result of serious illness, accident or simply as a result of decline at the end of life, you may reach a stage when you are incapable of making or communicating your choices concerning your health care and medical intervention.
In this situation, your doctor and family will have to make decisions for you and they will look for clear guidance from you. MyValues may help you in explaining your values in relation to life, death and medical intervention. Understanding and respecting your values will help your doctors and your family to make better choices about your medical treatment. With this information, they can feel reassured that they are respecting your wishes.
If you wish to use this resource, visit: www.myvalues.org.au
"I feel a huge sense of relief having completed my Advance Care Directive.I now know my voice will be heard and my wishes for end of life care will be carried out by my family and medical team.My daughter says it takes away any ‘second guessing’.End of life is a time when families should be able to spend time with their loved ones without agonizing over what treatment should be given.During my time working in aged care, I saw relatives struggle with making decisions on behalf of their loved ones. I have seen residents who are unable to express their wishes taken to hospital only to die in unfamiliar surroundings – heartbreaking for all concerned.When making an Advance care Directive, you are guided gently through the process by a caring professional planner who will make sure that your wishes are clearly documented and easy to understand." Jan Shea-Simonds
"I had really never given any thought to dying or death until Jan suggested we needed to address the subject, for all sorts of important and valid reasons – not the least of which was that our children had a clear understanding of our preferences and wishes. Jan wisely pointed out that we both have health issues and that we are now older than our respective mums at the time that they died. Jan also had the experience and wisdom of her long and distinguished nursing career to draw on – in particular from her work in aged care. The process wasn’t as daunting and difficult as I thought it would be, and with Jan’s help and the kind and informed counsel of Barwon Health ACP, we have both documented our wishes and our plans.Obviously there are ‘unknowns’ and issues that may arise out of the blue, but at least our family, our doctors and treating medical professionals will have a pretty clear picture of our wishes if we are unable to communicate them ourselves at that time. We are also able to review our respective Advance Care Directives as the time goes by, and make any changes if required. It is a comfort to have something in place rather than nothing at all, and it has helped me to focus on an issue that I was reluctant to deal with in the first instance." George Shea-Simonds, Jan's husband
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