Life is busy, life is hectic...we all know how easy it is to put things off even though we may have good intentions. Making end of life plans are no different in essence to birth plans but do we do them? End of life plans can give us reassurance and our loved ones peace of mind that they are clear about what we want but where do we start?
In healthcare we use the terminology of advance care planning to describe end of life plans. Planning in advance is the key here and helps all healthcare professionals know what you want and do their best to fulfil these things. Just as importantly, if not more, these plans are so useful for your loved ones so they don’t have to guess or make assumptions about what is important to you. Don’t forget these plans are only for utilisation when we can no longer speak for ourselves and only then.
Advance care planning can seem overwhelming and too difficult to start, after all where do you go for help and guidance. Let’s imagine we have an advance care planning house in one room we have wills, in another we have funeral planning, in another a wishes and preferences, organ donation (this has changed since April 2020), lasting power of attorney (finance and health), advance decision to refuse treatment, digital legacy and anticipatory care plan.
Like any house you might only go into one room, a few or all over time but you only need to go into the room that is most important to you. You can also return to that particular room if you want to and redecorate it (that is change it)! Advance care planning is all about you and only you and those things that are particularly important to you. Many of us can find it helps us to get on and live our lives if we have done a relevant room and shut it (as it’s neat and tidy!) knowing that it’s in order for the future.
More information can be found here on advance care planning: www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/treatment/if-you-have-an-advanced-cancer/advance-care-planning
Any healthcare professional that you come into contact with can help you with advance care planning as it is all our roles and there is much we can put into place even when we are fit and healthy - what have you in place? If you read this and go into just one of those rooms in the next few weeks or months you have made great strides.
Helen Evans, Head of Education at St Wilfrid's Hospice