SLHD My Wishes
Advance Care Planning

How can Carers start the discussion?

It is important to understand that people’s ability to understand facts and choices (also known as capacity) may vary with different decisions and at different times. Factors such as stress or illness may make it harder to make complicated decisions about treatments; however, the person may have capacity to make a number of simple decisions:

  • Talking about past experiences of your own or other family/friend events can often help anchor difficult discussions.
  • Tell them planning ahead may help relieve stress for themselves and yourself.
  • Conversation starters should be non-threatening and individualised, e.g. “If you became very ill, what parts of your life are most important for you to protect? Are things such as memory or physical ability important?”
  • Talk about values or priorities, spiritual needs or where they would prefer to spend their last days of life.

If they are unable to communicate, ask yourself “what would …. have said if he/she could communicate?” or “would … have worried about getting treatment that he/she would not have wanted?” It is important to distinguish between health care that will keep your loved one comfortable and other treatments that may add no time and perhaps be painful, confusing or stressful. It is a good idea to regularly talk to health care professionals involved with that person’s care, to ensure your decisions are in their best interest.