Eldercare Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Karen Glaetzer AM said the session at Allambi provided an opportunity for residents to start considering their health and end of life preferences and define what living well meant for them in consultation with their family representatives and clinical care staff.
“We were fortunate to have John McMahon from Palliative Care South Australia as our guest speaker - residents and family members could learn more about the purpose of advance care planning and understand the importance of having end of life conversations so any concerns and choices about care could be discussed,” said Karen.
“Advance care planning forms a key part of Eldercare’s high-quality palliative care approach and our aim is to respect each resident’s values, beliefs and goals so that we deliver peace of mind with our care to them - and their families.
“By starting conversations about advance care planning early, we can reassure residents that we know what their preferences are and have a better chance of ensuring their wishes are followed through.”
As part of Eldercare’s palliative approach, residents discuss their treatment preferences with a clinical care team member and complete an advance care plan which can be referred to if they become too unwell to speak for themselves.
Karen said the ideal time for these discussions is ‘as soon as practically possible’ after moving into residential care.
“It may seem a bit confronting at first; however, we find that residents are relieved to have the conversation and often have lots of questions,” said Karen.
“Families also benefit by having a clear understanding of their loved one’s wishes, staff are aware of their responsibilities and it provides formal direction for staff in the event of a change in the resident’s condition.”
Palliative Care South Australia spokesperson John McMahon said community attitudes towards advance care planning had shifted in recent years.
“Death used to be quite a taboo topic but, these days, people are generally more willing to have the discussion and it’s great to see legislation start to reflect those more open community attitudes,” said John.
“It used to be that decisions were made ‘for’ you but advance care planning ensures that decisions are made ‘as’ you - part of that is pre-empting what might happen and being ready for it.
“Advance care planning is not something that should be addressed only when the need arises – this is why we encourage people to document their preferences in a plan so everyone is prepared and enabled to provide the right care to the resident at the right time.”
National Advance Care Planning Week is an annual initiative by Advance Care Planning Australia.
Visit the Advance Care Planning Australia website for more information about advance care planning.