When asked to write my own ACP I thought, easy. Not so. There were many questions I had assumed I would know the answers to. However, I realised I had only thought very simplistically of how my healthcare would look, and when faced with writing an ACP document, there was so much more I needed to consider.
Many of us have wills and funeral plans, yet most of us have skipped the step that comes before that. What I have found, is that people do not realise that our wishes we have documented in our wills only take place after we have died.
How often do we have the conversation of how we want to be cared for when we’re seriously injured, ill or dying and unable to speak for ourselves, let alone document it in an ACP? What are the medical interventions I do or don’t want and under what circumstances will I choose one and not the other? What are the things important to me that I want others to know about? My spirituality, my cultural needs, people I want involved in my care – and those I don’t! Issues such as where do I want to be cared for – home, a rest home, or somewhere else? Music I’d like to listen to – Jack Johnson instead of something that my children would choose, such as Eminem!
I understand that Advanced Care Planning is a tough topic and often avoided, however, as a social worker in palliative care, I’ve heard from families and patients that they wish they had written it sooner. Having family and health professionals on the same page – ‘my page’ not only ensures that my wishes are met; it can relieve family of the emotional stress of making important health decisions for their loved ones.
Have the conversation. You see, it’s always too soon until it’s too late. Say it now.
Download an Advanced Care Plan here and make sure once it’s completed, you share it with your family and your GP.