Whanganui DHBWednesday 19 September 2012, 3:12PM
Media release from Whanganui DHB
Public response to the promotion of people, young and elderly,
developing Advanced Care Plans has been overwhelmingly
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and Whanganui Regional
Primary Health Organisation (WRPHO) have been promoting Advanced
Care Planning at four different sites within Wanganui Hospital and
the Whanganui community since May. And of the 62 people
interviewed, 44 were positive about drawing up a plan.
WDHB aged care & rehabilitation services strategic advisor
Jennie Fowler says while some people don't find it easy talking
about how they would like to be cared for when they are sick or
dying, most have been willing to think about the subject and the
number choosing to draw up Advanced Care Plans is pleasing.
Mrs Fowler says this is consistent with a recent survey conducted
by the National Advanced Care Plan Co-op which showed 77 percent of
participants were comfortable thinking and talking about how they
would wish to be cared for leading up to their death.
"Furthermore, participants were grateful for having the opportunity
to discuss this important issue with their friends, family and
health professionals," Mrs Fowler says. "It's been pleasing hearing
participants say they think people should start talking about their
end-of-life plans before becoming sick," Mrs Fowler says.
"It was recognised that planning ahead helps avoid hasty and
emotional decisions having to be made by the sick, the elderly,
those injured in accidents and of course, family members placed in
a situation where they have to make decisions based on what they
think their loved one would want them to do."
Mrs Fowler says there was widespread agreement among those surveyed
that because illness is not always the reason why a person dies,
anyone over the age of 45 should talk about drawing up an Advanced
Care Plan. Encouraging people to consider this a normal
conversation to have with one's family was considered particularly
WRPHO director and Whanganui doctor Alan Mangan agrees, saying it
is very helpful for doctors to be guided as to a patient's wishes
in the last phase of their lives.
"This is only possible if discussion has been held with the patient
and their family prior to end-of-life illness occurring," Dr Mangan
says. "Clinicians will always try and make the best decisions for
patients and their families in all circumstances. However, if they
are pre-informed of patients' wishes, unnecessary interventions can
be avoided and the process of dying, which we will all encounter,
can be as natural a part of our lives as being born."
For those interested in planning for the future, Advanced Care Plan
forms can be downloaded from www.advancecareplanning.org.nz. Once
completed, people are advised to send them to Wanganui Hospital's
Health Records Department where an alert is set up to let hospital
staff know that a person admitted to hospital has an Advanced Care
Plan in place. The forms are in the process of being distributed to
GP practices, residential care facilities and a number of community
services and agencies.