Does your community know about advanced care planning? If someone you work with became seriously ill or was injured, would they trust that medical professionals know what care they want or who they nominate as their preferred decision-makers?
While these things are difficult to think about, there are ways community members can document their preferences in advance of a crisis or unexpected life event, including preferences about future health care, personal care and treatment goals. This is particularly critical if there ever came a time when the person couldn’t express their own wishes.
It is very important for LGBTI people to be able to clearly nominate who they want to speak for them, particularly when there is a health crisis. Family of choice, partners, ex-partners and other community members may find it difficult to raise their voices. Sometimes health and aged care staff assume incorrectly that family of origin members always have the best interests of the person at heart. In a 2017 Australian study, less than a third of health care professionals were able to identify the legally authorised decision-maker for a same-sex couple. (Cartwright et al. 2017).
The good news is that there are steps that can be taken right now to ensure that this won’t happen.
Advice on how to write an advanced care plan and what it should include can be found on the Advanced Care Planning Australia website https://www.advancecareplanning.org.au
Once the plan is created, it can be stored in My Health Record. This makes it available to treating health professionals whenever and wherever it is needed and can provide guidance to loved ones about how a person wants to be treated. My Health Record also has the capability to record the details of an advance care document custodian (someone who holds a copy of a person’s plan) so that health or aged care staff are clear about who to speak with and can contact them easily.
Individuals can remove their advance care planning document from their My Health Record at any time and replace it with a new one with refreshed details.
Need help getting your advanced care planning documents onto My Health Record?
Full instructions on how to upload advanced care planning documents to My Health Record are here https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/my-health-record/whats-inside/advance-care-planning
Further information can be found here: https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/advance-care-planning
The My Health Record helpline on 1800 723 471 operates twenty-four hours a day.
Cartwright, C., White, B., Willmott, L., Parker, M. & Williams, G. (2017). Australian doctors’ knowledge of and compliance with the law relating to end-of-life decisions: Implications for LGBTI patients. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 20(8), 845–857. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2017.1385854