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In this episode of Grey Matters, Tracey and Ben talk about the importance of advance care planning and how to start the conversation about your medical wishes as you age.

Having an advance care plan in place can help you get the best care as you get older while also easing stress for family members that have to make a decision for you when you no longer can. Find out what’s involved in setting up an advance care plan and the importance of letting family members know about your decisions.

Key points discussed:

  • Legal requirements involved with advance care planning
  • The importance of articulating your wishes around care and medical treatments
  • The benefit of letting family members know what your wishes are
  • The role of enduring power of attorneys
  • How to choose an enduring power of attorney

 

Read Full Transcript

Ben Davis:
Good day again on this episode of Grey Matters, advance care planning. Ben Davis with you, along with Tracey Silvester from Seasons Aged Care. Advance care planning, it's a conversation we need to have. It's a difficult one and it's a legal minefield as well, isn't it?

Tracey Silvester:
The whole concept of advance care planning, is for you as an individual, to have very clearly documented and identified, what you want to have happen in the event that you can't make those decisions for yourself. We've got a very rigorous legal framework here in Queensland in terms of how advance care planning works. That means that there are certain processes that people to follow, to develop and advance care plan. It's not something you can just go and download a template of the internet and off you go.

What we don't want is, people get to certain age, they're unwell and they haven't clearly articulated what they want to have happen to their family members. Because what it does, is it actually leaves family members in a terrible position. You have Mom or Dad, of Auntie or Uncle in a hospital bed, very unwell, and you have doctors saying, "What do you want to do?" And whilst that's really tough, when you're going through the process of having to do it ...

Ben Davis:
Yeah.

Tracey Silvester:
Because having an advance care plan, means you have to go and talk to your GP. You have to get some legal advice about that care plan. You also need to involve your family members, because you need to let them know that you have an advance care plan. Because if something happens, and you're in the emergency department of the local hospital, your family need to have that document available. But it is pretty confronting, because effectively what you're saying is, "These are the things that I want to have happen to me." And that might mean, treatment doesn't occur at a time in your life when treatment could save you.

Ben Davis:
Confronting yes, but the flip side is, you'd have family members who, at a very emotional time, will be arguing.

Tracey Silvester:
Or terribly distressed, and it's really tough for doctors as well, and health professionals, because they're left with, "Well we don't really know what this person wants to have happen."

Ben Davis:
Yeah.

Tracey Silvester:
And if the person is older and they are frail, and perhaps their quality of life isn't as good as it might otherwise have been, then it becomes an ethical dilemma for the doctors as well. So if that person has clearly explained and put out in writing, in a legal document, what they want to have happen, there's no doubt. And I think that, that's the benefit of having an advance care plan, is that you as an individual have exercised your right to choose how you want to live your life, right up until the end of your life potentially.

Ben Davis:
And it's so much more than just choosing a power of attorney too, isn't it?

Tracey Silvester:
Absolutely, so an enduring power of attorney is one way that you can have people who can talk on your behalf. You can have an enduring power of attorney for financial matters, for health matters, or for both. The other thing people need to know, is an enduring power of attorney document, is not considered active until it's actually been lodged with the relevant government department.

Ben Davis:
What about choosing?

Tracey Silvester:
It needs to be somebody you trust. And you might actually choose to have your spouse, which is what a lot of people do, but you need to also think of, if my spouse passes away, who might I have? But equally you don't want to lock it up, so you're ending up with all of your kids as enduring power of attorney, and they've all got to agree to a decision. I've been involved in situations where you've got an enduring power of attorney situation, you got four kids, and they're all the enduring power of attorney, and they've all got to agree on a decision before something can happen.

Ben Davis:
Then you're back to square one.

Tracey Silvester:
You are, you might as well not have it.

Ben Davis:
Really great advice Tracey, thank you. Advance care planning, sometimes it can be confronting, but it is necessary, and remember Grey Matters.

Related content:
Advance health directive form
Statement of choices form
Choosing an enduring power of attorney
Everything you need to know about advance care planning

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Tracey Silvester
Tracey Silvester is Executive Manager of Envigor and has more than 25 years’ experience in health and aged care services. Tracey is committed to ensuring that our elders are able to exercise their right to choose how they live their lives regardless of their ability or function. Tracey is a Registered Nurse and has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Management. She is also an Associate Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Management and a surveyor with the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.
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