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Advance care planning: your care, your way

Communities / Wed 2nd Oct 2013 at 03:48pm

careIMAGINE, one day, without any warning, you find yourself in a life-threatening situation and unable to communicate your wishes. Who would speak for you and make healthcare decisions on your behalf?

From Tuesday, October 1, all the healthcare organisations in west Essex will be offering patients the opportunity to complete an advance care plan and support them to ensure their wishes for treatment are clear if they can no longer speak for themselves.

Tracy Reed, Specialist Nurse from South Essex Partnership University NHS Trust (SEPT), commented: “People somehow have a superstition that if you talk about the worst happening it might happen.

“But if we don’t speak up, how will others know how to help us?”

Advance care planning doesn’t need to be difficult or depressing:

THINK about what’s right for you. What’s important to you about your care?

LEARN about different medical procedures. Some may improve your quality of life, while others may not. Talk to your healthcare team for advice.

CHOOSE someone who is willing and able to speak for you and share your wishes if you can’t speak for yourself.

TALK to your family, friends and healthcare team to ensure you share your wishes

RECORD your wishes – write them down in the advance care planning booklet which is available from your healthcare team.

Gill Robertson, Macmillan palliative care clinical nurse specialist for Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, says: “Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust recognises the importance of giving patients the opportunity to participate in advance care planning. This is just one of the ways we are trying to improve patient experience at our hospital to ensure anyone who visits us is treated with dignity and compassion.”

As life-saving interventions continue to improve and people live longer – many with complex medical conditions – advance care planning becomes increasingly important.

We need to communicate our values and wishes around the use of certain procedures at the end of life, and what we believe gives our life meaning.

St Clare Hospice director of patient care Louise Cameron said: “The Advance Care Plan will enable our specialist palliative team to tailor our care to meet the individual needs of our patients.

“The process of advance care planning allows patients to express the type of care they wish to receive, and where they wish to be cared for, in case they lose capacity or are unable to make those decisions or preferences in the future.”

Make sure your voice is heard and avoid your family having to make difficult decisions during a stressful time; ask your healthcare team to help you with your advance care plan today.

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