Advanced Care Plan survey and promotion draws pleasing response

WRPHO director Dr Alan Mangan and WDHB aged care and rehabilitation services strategic advisor Jennie Fowler
WRPHO director Dr Alan Mangan and WDHB aged care and rehabilitation services strategic advisor Jennie Fowler
19 September 2012
Public response to the promotion of people, young and elderly, developing Advanced Care Plans has been overwhelmingly positive.
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 important.
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 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.