Esther Ebejer has peace of mind. She knows those around her are aware of her wishes about her medical care and treatment, and they will be respected if she becomes unable to speak for herself.
The Uniting AgeWell Noble Park Community resident completed her own Advance Care Plan recently and now she, her residence and her GP all have copies.
“Now people know what I want them to do or who I want them to contact if something happens to me,” she said.
“I think everyone should look into making one and not just older people. Young people have car accidents and so on, so we all need to make sure our intentions are written down.”
National Advance Care Planning Week runs from 1 – 5 April and Uniting AgeWell Palliative Care Specialist Kerry Whitlock is encouraging people to use the time to develop their own plans.
“I encourage everyone to talk about their beliefs, values and preferences with their health care team, family members and loved ones and make decisions about their future health care,” she said.
When developing a plan, Victorians can create legally binding advance care directives. It means individuals can be certain about the effect of these documents and health practitioners will be aware of their obligations.
An advance care directive can include instructional directives, which are specific instructions about the treatment a person consents to or refuses, or values directives, which describe the person’s views and values.
In Esther’s case, Noble Park Community arranged for an Advance Care Planning specialist from Monash Health to visit her and work through the process with her, the Senior Care Manager, Chaplain and her GP.
She nominated a medical treatment decision-maker to make decisions on her behalf if required, and a support person to assist her in making decisions for herself.
Kerry said creating an Advance Care Plan was a fairly straightforward process, but required a lot of thinking prior to ‘putting pen to paper’.
“If you’re not in a hurry, give yourself some time to think about it and write points down,” she said.
“Have a preliminary talk to your GP and make sure you talk to anyone you would like to nominate as a medical treatment decision-maker or support person.”
While an Advance Care Plan does involve making some serious decisions, Kerry said, if necessary, people could always change their mind later on.
For more information about Advance Care Plans, visit advancecareplanning.org.au