What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance care planning (ACP) refers to a process that helps adults understand and share their personal values, life goals and preferences regarding their future medical care. ACP aims to ensure that individuals receive care that aligns with their values, goals and preferences. Advance care planning can vary depending on whether the person is healthy, has a mild or moderate chronic illness, or has an advanced life-threatening illness. 

Regardless of age and current state of health, anyone can start working on their advance care planning. However, it is especially helpful for people with delicate health conditions or special situations to undertake this kind of planning. Advanced care planning is an ongoing process that can be modified whenever there are changes in the individual’s preferences. It is a process that benefits both the person and their loved ones, as it avoids future complications if they cannot make decisions for themselves. The Department of Health and Aged Care of the Australian Government provides useful information on the advance care planning process

When to Initiate the Advance Care Planning Process

Advance care planning usually begins when a person has a serious illness, just after the time of diagnosis. However, it is a good idea to begin advance care planning when you are healthy and not suffering from any medical condition. Thinking about your wishes can take time, and it is best to start this process well in advance and without rushing. 

You can start planning for your future anytime, as long as you know what your preferences and values are. If you already know what medical treatments you want or do not want, it is time to start your advance care planning if you already know what medical treatments you want or do not want. If you don’t, you can contact us and; our professionals will be happy to guide and assist you in the process.

If you have been diagnosed with a serious condition or health problem, you should consider starting planning as early as possible to make sure that your wishes are followed in case you are unable to communicate them in the future.

Before you start advance care planning, it is essential that you clearly understand what you want and what you do not want. This involves researching and deciding your preferences, as everyone has their own preferences and there are no better or worse options. When creating a care plan, consider your past health experiences, care you wish to receive in the future, and your religious beliefs, values and personality. 

Starting the conversation with your loved ones 

The conversation with your loved ones about your future care preferences is a significant first step that may be difficult to face at first. However, discussing your advance care desires is a great help to those who care about you. Ias, in the event that you are unable to express your preferences, they will not be forced to make decisions for you that may cause stress, discomfort and potentially conflict.

To start the conversation, you should ideally meet at a time and place that is calm and quiet and talk to them about your decision to start advanced care planning. You can explain why it is important to you and reassure them that it is perfectly normal to think about your future. During the conversation, you can clarify that it is important to you, even if it may create discomfort for the person you are talking to. You should also emphasise that this decision will benefit both of you, as it will give both of you peace of mind in the long run.

If having a long conversation about the issue is tiring either for you or the person you are sharing your plan with, opting for a series of shorter conversations is a great idea. If your loved one finds the conversation difficult, you can resume it another day. 

Talking with your health care provider is also important, as they can help you work through specific medical care questions, understand possible treatment options, and support your decisions. 

A key part of advanced care planning is communication between you and your family, loved ones and health care providers. The better they understand your preferences, the more likely they will be followed. You can learn more about how to start the conversation at Advance Care Planning Australia

How to Create an Advance Care Plan

The steps to create an advance care plan vary for each person depending on their age or current health conditions. Usually, the process begins with researching information and establishing your wishes for future care in the event that you become seriously ill or an emergency strikes. Once your wishes are clear, you can begin to develop your plan. 

The next step is to record and document your preferences and decisions in an advance care directive, which will be activated when you cannot make decisions for yourself. It is important to appoint someone you trust as your medical treatment decision maker. This person can be a family member or a close loved one, and should have a clear understanding of your wishes to ensure that they will be followed. 

After that, it is time to write down all of your preferences and wishes in one place. When the document is ready, you can give copies to relevant individuals, such as the person you selected as your medical treatment decision maker, your loved ones, and your doctor or your hospital. 

Having this document will give you peace of mind and take a huge weight off the shoulders of your loved ones. Remember that you can review it periodically in case your preferences have changed or you want to add anything else, as it is an ongoing process. 

What Should be Included in an Advanced Care Plan?

An advance care plan should include everything relevant to your future health and care. For instance, you can include where you would like to be cared for and where you would like your last moments to be, whom you want to be with you near the end of your life, any values or beliefs that affect the way you want to be cared for, what you would like your funeral to be like, and other factors that you consider relevant. 

In your advanced care plan, you can also include your wishes for medical treatments to keep you alive, such as the use of a ventilator, artificial feeding and hydration, cardiopulmonary resuscitation or the administration of pain medication at the end of life.

ACP is an ongoing process that you can modify at any time, as you may change your mind as the years go by or when another medical condition arises.  

How The CareSide Can Help

At The CareSide we offer you support throughout the entire advance care planning process. Our professionals will help you by providing information and answering any questions you may have about your care needs. We will also be your emotional support when you need it, and will help you to prepare for the moment of the conversation with your loved ones if you need it. Creating your advance care plan can be a long and complex process, but we are there to make it as easy as possible.

As a home care provider, we have helped hundreds of families in Australia spend the final part of their lives at home surrounded by their loved ones, providing families with the assistance, support and holistic care needed to achieve their goals. Find out more about our Palliative Care service. 

For people with chronic conditions who need help assessing needs, planning treatment, administering medication, and other medical services, we offer Nursing Care services tailored to each person’s circumstances. 

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.

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