If it is important, make it known

If it is important to you, make it known.

That is the advice from West Moreton Health Advance Care Planning Clinical Nurse Ros Holloway.

“Dying is something we don’t often talk about. However, to be able to sit in the quiet of someone’s home and discuss what they would choose at the end of their life is very respectful,” she said.

“Some people have never told anyone their inner-most fears and worries about death and dying before we meet with them.”

Ms Holloway said National Advance Care Planning Week, from 21-27 March 2022, was a great opportunity for people to consider their future health plans.

“Whether you are young or old, sick or well, it is important to have conversations about what care you may or may not want if ever you cannot answer for yourself,” she said.

“We have the discussion, we write it down, your doctors and JP signs it and then you go about living.”

Ms Holloway said West Moreton Health’s pioneering work in the area of Advance Care Planning had made it an effective and respective part of planning for a patient’s care.

“For 15 years, West Moreton Health has worked to introduce and lead Advance Care Planning services. A project manager was employed in 2007 to explore the possibility of introducing Advance Care Planning (ACP) to our service,” Ms Holloway said.

“This work included searching and comparing literature and ACP documents and models of delivery from around the globe and nationally.”

Those early steps led to the development of Queensland Health’s first Statement of Choices document, which has since been revised several times and is now in use across health services, aged care facilities and the wider community.

Ms Holloway is one of two clinical nurses, alongside Clarita “Lulu” Lauron, dedicated to providing West Moreton Health’s ACP services. The clinical nurses, who are experienced in palliative, cancer and chronic health conditions care, provide face-to-face appointments to help people complete their ACP documents.

These documents include an Advance Health Directive, Enduring Power of Attorney and a Statement of Choices. Appointments are conducted in the Ipswich Health Plaza or at homes, hospitals or residential aged care facilities.

Ms Holloway said timeframes for the appointments were tailored to individual needs, allowing time for discussion and explanation of what was sometimes a complex and challenging decision.

“As they are legal documents, we acknowledge that it is important to make sure the person understands the terminology and we get them right. It is an absolute privilege to be able to offer our patients this personalised service,” she said.

People can review their documents at any time.

Since 2016, WMH has sent more than 9000 documents to the Queensland State Office of Advance Care Planning.

Hundreds of ACP documents were already in place in patient charts and their homes before 2016.

If you have any questions, talk to your GP, or visit https://www.westmoreton.health.qld.gov.au/node/652, https://metrosouth.health.qld.gov.au/acp or https://www.qld.gov.au/health/support/end-of-life.

You can email the WMH ACP team at WM-ACP@health.qld.gov.au.