The time is now to talk about what matters most

Image: Advance Care Planning client Anne Riddell reads through her Advance Care Plan outside The Mornington Centre. 

Do your family know your wishes if you can’t make medical decisions for yourself?

Knowing the best way to continue with a loved one’s health care journey can be difficult when they are unable to communicate their wishes due to illness or injury.

Advance Care Planning encourages an open and honest conversation with those who may need to make decisions on your behalf, and documents your preferences for your future health care to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

This Advance Care Planning Week, we want to remind our community that planning ahead is relevant to everyone, and that our free Advance Care Planning Service is here to help you.

Diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, Mornington Peninsula resident Jo Fortune decided to put an Advance Care Plan in place to ensure her wishes are upheld should she no longer be able to make decisions regarding medical care and treatment.

“I thought it was necessary to put things in place to describe my wishes for when I become quite ill,” explains Jo. “My Advance Care Plan allows my family and my GP to know my preferences.”

“I wanted to make sure that my children knew my wishes, and that I didn’t want to be in a situation where I needed to be resuscitated and people not know that I didn’t want to be, if I wasn’t in a fit state.”

“The Advance Care Plan gives you peace of mind knowing that your wishes have been recorded,” adds Jo.

For Anne Riddell, having a say in her future health care is extremely important.

“The older you get, the more you think about the end of your life,” says Anne. “You start thinking, are there any steps I could take to ensure that my wishes will be followed.”

“A lot of people can’t bear to think about their death,” explains Anne. “It takes a certain sort of person to actually think without too much emotion about dying. But what a help it is to their family if they are informed about your preferences.”

“I know I don’t want my life to be prolonged unnecessarily if it is going to be unpleasant for me,” she adds.

With the assistance of Peninsula Health Advance Care Planning Service, both Jo and Anne completed their Advance Care Plan which will be enacted if they are unable to communicate due to illness or injury.

“It is such an honour to lead such a dynamic and compassionate team in what is such unique and important work,” says Laura Bell, Clinician and Team Leader, Advanced Care Planning.

“As clinicians we walk away from every consult acknowledging what a privilege it is to support our community to discuss such an important topic. Advance Care Planning is everybody’s business.”

For help completing an Advance Care Plan, contact Peninsula Health’s free Advance Care Planning Service on 1300 665 781 or read more on our website.