Encouraging people to start potentially difficult discussions
about their future healthcare needs is the purpose of a new
national day launched by health authorities.
The first ''Conversations that Count Day'', aiming to
encourage people to plan their future health needs in a
process called advance care planning (ACP), was launched last
Most people were happy to plan for when children left home,
or for retirement, but were not keen to think ahead about
their own health needs, said Southern District Health Board
advanced care planning working group chairwoman Debbie
''Many people just don't want to think about it. We want to
get the message out there that people have a choice around
their future care, where it is delivered, treatments that may
or may not be acceptable and, most of all, that their beliefs
and wishes are respected.''
Ideally, an advance care plan would be developed and stored
alongside medical records. Dunedin GP Dr Jill McIlraith said
it was a ''pity'' to leave such planning until serious
illness was manifest, which was a time of stress.
''I think this is a valuable initiative - they are never easy
conversations to have but even more so once there is crisis;
for example, discovering that a family has metastatic cancer,
or a brain tumour.
''I think such conversations are best held within the family,
and not necessarily suitable for a 15 to 20-minute doctor
''It is a bit like health education in lots of areas whether
it be about preventing obesity or cardiac disease, or keeping
oneself safe regarding drinking, alcohol and sex - the
earlier in a person's life such discussions take place, the
more likely they are to be successful.''
The day is co-ordinated by the National Advance Care Planning