Wimmera Health Care Group is asking people with pre-existing medical conditions to talk to their families and loved ones about treatment options.
Wimmera Health Care Group clinical educator Chris Dodson wants people to begin to think about whether they want to live as long as possible, or is quality of life also important to them.
“It is obviously a delicate issue to bring up with family and loved ones, but it is a really important issue as well,” Mr Dodson said.
“Some people wouldn’t mind being in a nursing home, where for others being independent is the most important thing no matter what. There can be a lot of decisions to be made when someone is ill and people should think about who they would want to make decisions about their treatment if they were too unwell to make them for themselves.”
Mr Dodson said if a patient talks with their family about advanced care needs, it isn’t the final word as people are free to change their mind as often as they want.
“The main reason for having the talk is that it lets your family or loved ones know what you would want if you were to unwell to make a decision about your health care.” Mr Dodson said.
“Also it is important to remember that it isn’t legally binding, it simply informs the hospital of what you would like. You or your loved ones are free to change your minds at any time.”
“Wimmera Health Care Group doesn’t have an official policy in regards to advanced care plans, what the conversation will do is make the family aware of what their loved one wants, so that when they are asked ‘what do you want us to do for your loved one?’ they at least have an idea.”
Mr Dodson said important questions to have discussed include;
•Do they want full resuscitation (life support, intubation, transfer to Melbourne, etc)
•Active treatment (antibiotics, IV fluids, surgery etc)
•Palliative care (pain relief, made comfortable etc)
If people have an Advanced Care Plan, Wimmera Health Care Group is happy to place a copy in your medical file so that it will be available to your loved ones and staff. Remember an Advanced Care Plan is only referred to when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes to hospital staff and your loved ones.