WRPHO director and Whanganui doctor, Alan Mangan, WRPHO clinical director, Julie Nitschke, and WDHB aged care and rehabilitation strategic advisor, Jennie Fowler, will travel to Melbourne to share their learnings at the International Society of Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care conference in Australia in May 2013.
“We are really excited to share how advance care planning was introduced across Whanganui’s primary and secondary health care settings, and to pass on the knowledge gained by taking this approach,” said Mrs Fowler.
Mrs Fowler noted that advance care plans help people decide how they would like to be cared for if they become sick or are dying.
“The project aimed to support health care workers, such as GPs, to encourage people to discuss their health care preferences as a normal part of family conversation,” said Mrs Fowler.
“It made sense for advance care planning to be rolled out across the sector so that patients could decide how they wanted to plan for the future regardless of whether this was with their GP, within their rest home or at the hospital.”
Mrs Fowler observed that after an initial ACP discussion, most people were committed to continuing their ACP conversation with their family/whanau (extended family), health professionals and/or lawyer.
“Most people see the value that having their plan in place will have in decreasing any uncertainties about their health care wishes.
“Importantly, they can see how a plan will help reduce the distress and anxiety for their family/whanau… And patients find it comforting that their doctors will be informed of those wishes,” she said.
For those interested in planning for the future, advanced care plan forms can be downloaded from their website. Forms can also be found at GP practices, residential care facilities and a number of community services and agencies throughout the country.
Once completed, people are advised to send their form to Whanganui DHB’s Health Records Department where an alert is set up to let clinicians know that a person admitted to hospital has an Advanced Care Plan in place.