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Revolutionary new guide to end-of-life plans launched for aged care sector

The launch of an advance care planning guide provides updated and vital information on end-of-life care plans for the aged care sector

A landmark publication has provided a first of its kind guide for the aged care sector that would fill in the gaps of limited evidence-based resources for more informed end-of-life decisions.

Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) launched together with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), the ‘Advance care planning in aged care: A guide to support implementation in community and residential settings’.

Medical Director for Advance Care Planning Australia, Dr Karen Detering, said, “Until now there have been limited practice, evidence-based resources for the aged care sector to confidently support patients and families with advance care planning.”

Advance care planning promotes care that is consistent with the patient’s goals, beliefs, and values by providing details of end-of-life decisions for patients that may not be able to communicate the decisions themselves.

In partnership with the ACPA, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) released its update on their policy statement to ensure increasing awareness and uptake of care in the community.

“Dying is a normal part of life so it is important for all Australians to have discussions about death and dying and the type of care they would like to receive if they could no longer speak for themselves,” said PCA CEO Liz Callaghan.

“By having the conversation with their loved ones and health professionals, people can ensure their treatment and care best aligns with their values and preferences regarding both the type and place of care and place of death.”

Around four in ten people will not be able to make their own end-of-life decisions and less than 15 per cent of Australians are yet to document their preferences.

The Advance care planning guide offers comprehensive information on the advanced care planning, including how the aged care sector can engage with patients and families, a list of policies and procedures, and the legal aspects relevant to each Australian state and territory.

NARI Director of Clinical Gerontology, Dr Frances Batchelor, said, “Although biomedical advances enable humans to live longer, the quality of life and end-of-life care is an issue that is rarely addressed in older people nearing the end-of-life.”

The guide was developed using findings from a literature review, a national survey of community and residential aged care providers, consultation with community and residential aged care staff, and consultations with older people.

Research shows that advance care planning can reduce anxiety, depression and stress experienced by families and that they are more likely to be satisfied with care by staff.

“Advance care planning gives older people the opportunity to discuss and determine their preferences for medical treatment if and when they are incapacitated,” said Dr Batchelor. “It also helps ensure that time and resources are not wasted on unwanted treatment options and reduces the emotional distress of families at a stressful period.”

The guide was officially launched by Minister for Aged Care, the Hon. Ken Wyatt MP, at the launch of Advance Care Planning Week in Melbourne. Free copies of the guide are available for Australian aged care providers to access online.

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