WDHB to promote Advance Care Plans on 'Conversations that Count Day'

11 April 2016
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) will mark ‘Conversations that Count Day’ on 16 April with an on-air discussion between The Hits radio host Darryl Mallet and Whanganui Advance Care Plan (ACP) leads Dr Alan Mangan and Rebecca Casey. The three will discuss the theme for this year’s campaign: ‘Get them talking’.

Dr Mangan says he’ll be talking about why it’s important for adults of all ages to develop an ACP to let family members and clinicians know how they wish to be cared for leading up to their death - one of the most important conversations people can have.

The WDHB and Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) have been promoting Advance Care Planning since late 2011 to encourage people to open up and have a conversation some don’t find easy says WDHB associate director Allied Health Jennie Fowler.

“But having said that, a survey conducted in 2012 showed 77 percent of participants were comfortable thinking and talking about how they would wish to be cared for leading up to their death. And furthermore, they were grateful for having the opportunity to discuss this important issue with their friends, whānau/family and health professionals,” Mrs Fowler says.

“Everyone should start thinking and talking about their future care planning before becoming unwell,” Mrs Fowler says. “It’s widely recognised that planning ahead helps us avoid hasty and emotional decisions having to be made when we’re sick, elderly, injured in accidents, or we’re family members placed in a situation where we’re having to make decisions based on what we think our loved one would want them to do.”
Mrs Fowler says there’s widespread agreement that, given illness is not always the reason why a person dies, everyone should think about future care planning and the need to draw up an Advance Care Plan. “Consider this a normal conversation to have with your family,” she says. “It’s also an important conversation to have with your lawyer when writing your will and Enduring Power of Attorney.”

Dr Mangan says doctors welcome being guided as to a patient’s wishes in the last phase of their lives.
 “But this is only possible if discussion has been held with the patient and their family prior to end-of-life illness occurring. While clinicians will always try and make the best decisions for patients and their families in all circumstances, if they are pre-informed of patients’ wishes, unnecessary interventions can be avoided and the process of dying, can be as natural as it is to be born.”
For those interested in planning for the future, Advance Care Plan forms can be downloaded from www.advancecareplanning.org.nz. Alternatively ask your doctor if they have a hard copy. Once completed, people are advised to give them to their GP who will forward them to Whanganui Hospital’s Clinical 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.

On April 15, visitors walking through Whanganui Hospital’s Main Entrance will find a static display which visitors and hospital staff are encouraged to stop and look at. Information leaflets will be available at the display.