PDH Encourages End of Life Planning

Thursday, 20 March 2014
Portland District Health is encouraging local residents to get in early to prepare for the worst.

PDH is backing a State Government priority that encourages people to make plans for dealing with life threatening illnesses.

This month the Victorian Department of Health launched `Advance care planning: have the conversation; A strategy for Victorian health services 2014-2018’. The strategy supports health services to develop, review and activate advance care plans with the people they care for.

The program aims to identify patient wishes regarding their health care, particularly around end-of-life issues, and document these in an advance care plan.

PDH has adopted advanced care planning in palliative care, aged care and in its Hospital Admission Risk Program (HARP) and will be implementing it across other parts of the service.

PDH health psychologist Jacki Carmody said the earlier people discussed advanced care planning the better.

We encourage everyone to start the conversation with their families as soon as possible. It is best to make plans when you are well. It gives people peace of mind to know that when it comes time their wishes are documented and will be followed, Ms Carmody said.

Ms Carmody said the plans included medical enduring power of attorney and directions on the type of medical treatment they desire. They can also cover contacts that need to be made, spiritual needs and organ donation.

PDH's HARP Chronic Disease Manager Donna Eichler said while discussions about death were difficult, it was best to be prepared.

At PDH we want to make informed decisions based on peoples preferences about their medical treatment, Ms Eichler said.

It is best to have those conversations before any crisis point.

Health care workers are often required to make medical decisions without knowing a patient's preference.

Advanced care planning is now being implemented across PDH to encourage patients, clients and residents to document their wishes, particularly for and-of-life treatment.

People will still be asked about their preferences when they come to the hospital, but it is important to have your wishes documented in case communication is not possible,Ms Eichler said.

Advance care planning is a consultation process with health care providers and family members.

The program relies on powers enabled by the Victorian Medical Treatment Act (1988) for people to appoint someone to act as their Medical Enduring Power of Attorney (MEPOA) for medical treatment.

People wanting to know more about advanced care planning can visit the website http://advancecareplanning.org.au/.

People can also contact PDHs primary care department on PH:55 221180

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