Missed ACP opportunities for people with dementia

nurse and eldery man having tea in aged care room
We've published new advance care planning (ACP) research, to better understand the types of ACP documents that exist for people with dementia. 

The study, developed in partnership with the University of Newcastle, is the first of its kind to provide data about the prevalence and type of ACP documentation in the health records of people with dementia across Australian health and aged care settings. 

The audit found that 60% of people with dementia had some form of ACP documentation. However only half of these documents (31.6%) were advance care directives (ACDs), written by the person themselves. 29.3% of these documents were advance care plans (ACPs), completed by someone else - typically a family member or healthcare professionals. 

While both ACPs and ACDs play an important role in the care of people with dementia, the benefits of ACDs are that they are legally binding, where ACPs are used as a guide for care only.

The study found that health care and aged care sites with ACP policies and guidelines had a higher level of person-completed ACDs. 

These findings suggest that more needs to be done to support proactive ACP discussion and create opportunities for older people to document preferences prior to decline in decision-making capacity.