7 August 2015

In the lead up to Dying to Know Day (8 August 2015), Capital Health Network (CHN) is encouraging Canberrans to start a conversation with your loved ones about how you’d like to spend the end of your life. We know that 75% of people have not had end of life discussions with their family.

CHN Chair Dr Martin Liedvogel said it’s important for people to complete an Advance Care Plan detailing their wishes for end of life care including medical treatment. At the moment less than 10% of people die with a completed Advance Care Plan.

“It’s a confronting thing to do, to think about the end of your life, but starting the conversation with key people including your family members and GP about your wishes can be a good start. An accident or illness can happen to anyone at any time,” said Dr Liedvogel, CHN Chair.

“It’s extremely important to write down your wishes so they can be respected and followed. It also takes the huge pressure and stress off your family to make any decisions on your behalf,” said Dr Liedvogel.

Dr Liedvogel said through his general practice he’s seen many examples of the tension caused between family members when they are required to make choices on behalf of their family member.

“I had a patient who had a stroke and was not expected to regain consciousness. His family had to decide if he would have wanted to be kept alive with full time nursing care and for how long to continue the care. If he had an Advance Care Plan, the doubt would have been removed,” said Dr Liedvogel.

Canberrans are urged to think about the care and treatments that they would or would not want and get these down onto paper.

“For example, you may feel strongly about not being treated with certain things like tube feeding or a breathing machine. While these conversations can be difficult and perhaps confronting, having a plan ensures that your wishes are communicated clearly and assists loved ones when faced with difficult decisions later on,” said Dr Liedvogel.

CHN, in collaboration with the ACT Heath’s Respecting Patient Choices® Advance Care Planning Program, has produced a website as part of the “Be My Voice” campaign.

The community can view a range of Advance Care Planning resources, and book into an information session through the campaign’s website at: www.bemyvoice.com.au. These additional tools aim to help our local community engage in the process of Advance Care Planning.

Dying to Know Day is an annual day of action, led by The Groundswell Project, dedicated to bringing to life conversations and community actions around death, dying and bereavement.

CHN is the ACT’s primary health care organisation supporting health professionals to improve the coordination of care so that patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.