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Advance care planning a “critical” part of healthy ageing

A new nationwide initiative is asking community groups, organisations, families and individuals to think about the future as part of the first ever National Advance Care Planning Week.

Australians of all ages are being urged to take part in National Advance Care Planning Week (Source: Shutterstock)
Australians of all ages are being urged to take part in National Advance Care Planning Week (Source: Shutterstock)

The initiative of Advance Care Planning Australia, which is running from 16-22 April 2018,

is part of an international public awareness effort coinciding with significant advance care planning initiatives being held in the USA, Canada and New Zealand, and aims to see Australians of all ages ask themselves who they would like to speak for them if they were too sick to do so, and what health care decisions they would want to make.

A number of health sector leaders from across Australia have joined forces to promote awareness and to host events during the week, with a number of ambassadors for the event also announced, including Advance Care Planning Australia’s Medical Director, Dr Karen Detering; and Chief Executive Officer of Palliative Care Australia, Liz Callaghan.

Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt says he is pleased that this important initiative is garnering support across Australia and focussing attention on advance care planning - a concept he says is a critical part of healthy ageing but one that is not well understood by the general public.

“Around half of Australians will not be able to make their own end of life medical decisions, yet few people take the active steps required to enable control of their future health care,” Minister Hunt explains.

“The week will challenge all Australians to start conversations with loved ones about what living well means to them.”

Dr Detering says more than 100 community groups and health care organisations across Australia have signed up to host an event as part of the initiative, starting an important conversation in their community about making their future health care preferences known, and encourages everyone to get involved if they can.

“The evidence is clear that advance care planning can help alleviate stress for people who find themselves asked to make medical decisions for loved ones,” she says.

“Do it for yourself.

“Do it for your loved ones.

“And ideally, do it when you’re fit and well - don’t leave it to chance on the day you present at the emergency room”.

More information on advance care planning and getting involved with National Advance Care Planning Week through hosting or attending an event can be found online.

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