It is our experience that patients and their families can gain great comfort from knowing that their affairs are in order and they have planned for their final days. We have developed a booklet called Planning Ahead – Advance Care Planning which covers key areas to help guide you and your family in looking to the future. The time at which it may be appropriate to consider completing this is different for each individual and the journey they have been on. You may be keen to plan early in your illness and have it behind you, or it may be something that you approach only when you feel more unwell. Some patients simply may not be able to face considering their options; we fully respect this but we will always let patients know that it is available.
If you are a patient known to Weston Hospicecare, your Hospice Community Nurse Specialist will help you consider options for your future care. We often think this involves hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. Although end of life care is incredibly difficult to contemplate it can help you to regain control when you may feel quite uncertain. All of the Hospice staff, from doctors and nurses to physiotherapists and complementary therapists, are trained to support you and your families during these discussions.
Areas which are covered in the Planning Ahead – Advance Care Planning booklet include:
- Identifying your wishes
- Identifying someone to make decisions on your behalf
- Practical planning
- Celebrating your life
- Refusal of treatments or interventions
- Useful contacts
- Preference forms
The booklet has forms at the back which can be completed, removed and shared. Completing the booklet allows your wishes to be shared with family and carers, as well as between healthcare professionals, so they can do their utmost to make sure your wishes are met.
Ask your Hospice Community Nurse Specialist for a booklet – or, you can download here.
Advance care planning for patients who can’t be part of the discussions
Some patients may not be able to be involved in considering future care, something described as lacking capacity. This is usually because a person has an impairment of their brain which prevents them from understanding and communicating their wishes. In this situation it is often helpful for key carers, family and healthcare professions to join together to make a plan about what the patient themselves would have wanted and what treatments/care would be in the patient’s best interest. If a person is appointed a lasting power of attorney for health (LPA) then this person can make treatment decisions. As a carer or family member (who is not a LPA) then you cannot make decisions for your loved one, but you can help share important information about what care the person would have wanted.This can be invaluable if a crisis arises and decisions about treatment, hospital admission etc. need to be made.
To help direct this sharing of information to direct the best decision for the individual there is a document along similar lines to the planning ahead booklet: