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Sensible planning approach encouraged for health care decisions

Adult Western Australians are being encouraged to complete an Advance Care Plan, to ensure their wishes in the event of illness or death are known.

Less than 10% of Western Australian adults are known to have completed an Advance Care Plan, meaning many families may be left to make difficult decisions in a crisis moment or negotiate paperwork that could be completed in advance.

Further, according to research by Palliative Care Australia (2014), while 82% of the population say it is important to have plans in place should anything unfortunate happen, only 50% have spoken with their partner about their wishes, 25% have spoken with their children and only 10 per cent have spoken with their doctor.

To increase the number of people who complete an Advance Care Plan, industry stakeholders will launch a collaborative campaign in 2018.

Announced as part of National Advance Care Planning Week (16-22 April), the campaign will be developed over the coming months in careful consultation with community groups. The objective will be to increase awareness of the need to have end-of-life discussions, and remove the stigma around these conversations and decisions which may include:

  • organ and tissue donation
  • wills
  • Enduring Power of Guardianship
  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Advanced Health Directive
  • Understanding treatment choices and palliative care options available based on your condition.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook said the thought of planning the last stages of your life can be a daunting and confronting task for many people, and one many would rather not have.

“However, as illness and death are not age discriminatory, conversations around the last stage of life are sensible for all adults – ensuring your wishes are known and respected, and therefore reducing the burden on your family during difficult times,” he said.

“This collaborative approach from industry partners will increase the understanding of what Advance Care Planning is, and engage people to think about their future.

“I encourage more Western Australians to be pragmatic in their approach to illness and death, and to ensure their voice in decisions about them is known and heard.”

The campaign will be funded by Bethesda Health Care, Cancer Council WA, HBF, Carers WA, St John of God Hospitals, Rural Health West, Silver Chain, Brightwater, Alzheimers WA and Health Consumers Council, with support from the Department of Health.

Palliative Care WA is also providing half-day workshops throughout 2018 to allow people to learn about Advance Care Planning and to have their questions answered. For information on workshop availability, contact www.palliativecarewa.asn.au or call 1300 551 704.

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