Advance care plans needed

Dr Emma Greenwood. Picture: Christine Ansorge
Dr Emma Greenwood. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Warrnambool doctor Emma Greenwood is urging people to develop their own advance care plans.

The call from Dr Greenwood comes at the start of National Advance Care Planning Week.

This will include an information session today from 11am at the Archie Graham Community Centre in Warrnambool.

Dr Greenwood will be joined at the session by South West Healthcare (SWH) advanced care planning officer Melissa Couch.

An advance care plan is a document that helps guide the care of an individual if they lose their decision-making ability.

Health professionals are recommending people over the age of 18 have an advance care plan in place.

Dr Greenwood joined in that chorus.

“An advance care plan empowers patients and allows them a voice when they are unable to express their wishes,” Dr Greenwood said.

“These plans are not just for the elderly or terminally ill, it makes a lot of sense for everyone to have a plan prepared and ready in case it is needed.”

Dr Greenwood said for those with an advance care plan, an annual review of the document is recommended.

The development of an advance care plan includes the nomination of a medical treatment decision maker. This role was former called a medical enduring power of attorney. The new title comes after a new set of guidelines were introduced in March regarding advance care plans.

Dr Greenwood said plans that were developed prior to March were still able to be used.

She encouraged those wishing to update an old plan or create a new one to do so by consulting their GP.

Medical Director of Advance Care Planning Australia Dr Karen Detering said more than half of all Australians will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions.

“Research shows that advance care planning can help alleviate stress for people who find themselves asked to make medical decisions for loved ones in need,” Dr Detering said.

“Yet in Australia, advance care planning is not common or widely understood.”

More information on advance care plans is available by contacting SWH on email: mcouch@swh.net.au or phone 5564 4182.

The following websites are also recommended: www.opa.sa.gov.au and www.advancecareplanning.org.au