Advance care planning is when a person discusses with those close to them and their doctor their preferences for their future medical treatment and personal care. Advance care planning is something that a person with capacity can do for themselves. (And the wishes of someone who does not have capacity should always be sought.)
Making legally binding advance care directives will be possible from March 2018. For further information please see Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016
This Act will support having conversations about what is important to a person to support decision-making when they are no longer able to participate. This Act will require your medical treatment decision maker to make decisions in accordance with your preferences and values. This includes considering an advance care plan that you have made, an advance care directive that you have made, or preferences and values that you have previously expressed to people close to you.
For resources to support planning ahead for people with early stages of dementia
The resources are also hosted on the Alzheimer’s Australia website and complement the information available there for consumers
For support for organisations to make planning ahead routine in community care a series of online resources has been launched to assist community care staff to raise advance care planning with their clients, particularly those in the early stages of dementia.
The resources, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre, have been developed and trialled with consumers and industry.
Resources developed include:
- Planning ahead community and home care toolkit– supports community and home care organisations to assess their current advance care planning policies and practices and identify areas for improvement
- Planning ahead community education resources kit– supports organisations to facilitate awareness and education sessions for home care staff and wider community
- Planning ahead workbooks –these resources can be provided to clients to complete at home or within community education sessions
- Decision-making brochures – provides information for those in the role of substitute decision-makers
- Videos and podcastsexplore topics such as why planning ahead is important, determining the decision-making capacity of someone with dementia and the role of different professionals in planning.
Professor Meera Agar, a palliative care physician and academic who led the project, said the resources are based on the findings of a research report which examined how to improve advance care planning for those with dementia.
“Our research included interviews with over 80 people with experience in advance care planning in a variety of community, aged and health care settings from across Australia,” she said.
“It is important to have a professional health and aged care workforce which is knowledgeable and skilled in helping older people plan ahead.
“The community sector, in particular, has an important role to play in raising awareness and encouraging conversations about what matters most in the years ahead,” Professor Agar said.
Associate Professor Josephine Clayton, a palliative care physician at HammondCare and member of the project’s stakeholder advisory committee, said the resources would assist both older people and their carers.
“I know that making decisions for others can be very stressful. The resources include a pamphlet that can be given to people who find themselves in this position so they better understand their role. There is also information on how to support a person to make their own decisions as far as possible,” Associate Professor Clayton said.