Prioritising individual choice in health care
If you were unable to speak for yourself, who would speak for you? And what health care decisions would you want them to make?
Between 16-22 April, Australians are encouraged to consider these questions and discuss their future healthcare preferences with their loved ones.
Launching for the first time in Australia, National Advance Care Planning Week is part of an international public awareness effort, coinciding with significant advance care planning events being held in the USA, Canada and New Zealand.
50% of people will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions, yet few people take the active steps required to enable control of their future health care.
The week will challenge all Australians to start conversations with loved ones about what quality of life looks like to them and what they value most.
“Research shows that advance care planning can help alleviate stress for people who find themselves asked to make medical decisions for loved ones in need. Yet in Australia advance care planning is not common or widely understood,” says Dr Karen Detering, Medical Director of Advance Care Planning Australia.
Typically Australians think about life and death as black and white, yet in reality there’s an extended ‘grey’ period, with more of us living with ongoing health issues. In fact 85% of people die after a chronic illness, not a sudden event. We want to empower people to understand that they have a choice about their end-of-life care and the steps they can take today to ensure their preferences are known and respected.”
The National Advance Care Planning Week website offers downloadable resources for advance care planning, including videos, personal stories and conversation starters, as well as relevant forms for each state and territory. There will also be information on how community groups can get involved and host their own event.
“Life is unpredictable. Your health status can change in an instant. This is a conversation for everyone, not just older Australians. We need to move beyond the taboos and discomfort about speaking about dying and treat advance care planning as a normal part of life, not unlike retirement planning”, explains Dr Detering.
What is advance care planning?
Advance care planning promotes care that is consistent with your goals, values, beliefs and preferences. It prepares you and others to plan for future health care and a time when you may no longer be able to communicate those decisions yourself.
- Around half of Australians will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions
- 85% of people die after a chronic illness, not a sudden event
About Advance Care Planning Australia
Advance Care Planning Australia is a national program funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, enabling Australians to make the best choices for their life and health care.
We believe advance care planning is a heartfelt conversation and a personal statement that goes way beyond filling in a form. It’s a commitment to honour and respect an individual’s values and choices. We want to enable every Australian to make the best choices for their life and health care, based on their personal values and beliefs.
Advance Care Planning Australia increases advance care planning resources across health sectors and NGOs, improves workforce capability, produces information resources for diverse consumers and communities, and builds the evidence base.
Please contact us for an interview with advance care planning expert, Dr Karen Detering and other National Advance Care Planning Week ambassadors in your state or territory (where available). We can also connect you to individuals with advance care planning stories.
To contact us or to download our event media kit, visit our media page.
1. Scott, I. A., Mitchell, G. K., Reymond, E. J., & Daly, M. P. (2013). Difficult but necessary conversations—the case for advance care planning. Med J Aust, 199(10), 662-6.