When Claudia Matthews, the Advance Care Planning facilitator at Taranaki District Health Board, was invited to speak to the Positive Ageing Forum earlier this month, she says she was delighted to have the opportunity to do so.

"It is always a pleasure being invited to present in rural towns, it brings me back to my farm upbringing," she says. Advance Care Planning is an important issue, says Claudia, and with this in mind the Stratford Press invited her to submit an article on the topic.


I found it an all too common situation where patients lay incapacitated in Intensive Care, unable to voice their treatment preferences ...

Advance care planning gives everyone a chance to say what is important to them. It helps people understand what the future might hold and to say what treatment they would and would not want.

It helps people, their families/whanau and their healthcare teams plan for future and end of life care. This makes it much easier for families/whanau and healthcare providers to know what the person would want - particularly if they can no longer speak for themselves.

The process of advance care planning may result in the individual wishing to complete an advance care plan. Completing an advance care plan is a voluntary process which involves the person, their family/whanau and healthcare professionals who together on a nationally recognised document write down their treatment and care wishes and preferences.

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This document can be lodged with your local GP and hospital for use at a later stage. Most importantly, the document belongs to the individual so it is of utmost important they keep a copy and notify family/whanau and friends where to locate a copy in an emergency.

For 2017 the aim in Taranaki is to promote ACP and encourage health professionals to engage in these conversations with patients, but equally for patients to request these conversations also. To help get Taranaki talking about advance care planning the hospital has employed me as the advance care planning facilitator.

My role is to assist staff with the process and provide education. I started the role in November 2016 and I am passionate about advance care planning. As an intensive care nurse for many years, I found it an all too common situation where patients lay incapacitated in Intensive Care, unable to voice their treatment preferences, with family spread geographically far and wide, often making decisions about end of life care without prior discussions.

These experiences have driven me to get Taranaki talking!

There is lots of information out there about advance care planning.

The Taranaki District Health Board website has a dedicated ACP page; you can even complete your own! Have a look today at http://www.tdhb.org.nz/services/acp.shtml

There is even a national website which you may like to look at www.advancecareplanning.org.nz.

Alternatively all local inquiries can be emailed to ACP.Admin@tdhb.org.nz.
And remember "have the conversations before the crisis" and most importantly I always like to leave you with food for thought ... "Talking about sex won't make you pregnant and talking about dying won't make you dead."

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