Palliative Care leads the drive urging families to plan for the future ahead of Dying Matters Week

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Palliative Care team is leading the drive to encourage families to share their wishes and preferences for future care in the form of an Advance Care Plan (ACP).

Ros Johnstone is calling on people to talk about and document their wishes and preferences to help families, friends and healthcare professionals ensure plans are fulfilled wherever possible.
More than 300 healthcare professionals across North Wales have received training to help people draw up an ACP thanks to a three year-long initiative between Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Macmillan Cancer Support.
An ACP brings together a range of information about an individual, covering their preferences and wishes on end of life care and social arrangements. Details in the document include domestic arrangements if they suddenly become unwell, their wishes and preferences for place of care, tissue and organ donation, end of life care, funeral plans and arrangements for an individual’s digital legacy such as closing down a Facebook or Twitter page.
The contents of the document can then be shared with relevant people, including clinicians and hospital staff, with their consent.
The document provides people with an opportunity to record their views and instructions, which in turn guides the care provided by healthcare professionals and any arrangements made by family members or those important to the person.
The ACP can be altered at any time and regular reviews of the document is encouraged to ensure it stays up to date.
ACPs are not legally binding documents but can indicate the wishes of an individual, helping them have a voice in end of life care should they lose capacity or capability to provide instruction themselves. The ACP should be treated with respect and regarded as confidential by any healthare professional.
Ros, who is the Macmillan ACP Lead for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, is now urging people to think about how they want to be cared for in the final stages of their lives and ensure significant others are informed of their wishes.
Ros said: “We’ve found there are real benefits for everyone involved by just having conversations about end of life plans.
“Sharing with the important people in your life what you want to happen can bring about peace of mind, and contribute to living well until the end of your life.
“The peer reviewed literature on ACP from several countries around the world indicates that there are significant benefits for the person, those important to them and for healthcare professionals.
“Knowing you are doing for your loved one what they wanted you to, can help with the immediate loss and have a positive impact on the grieving process.”
“I’ve filled in my own ACP, and it does give you some peace of mind knowing you’ve left specific guidance on things people might not think of in the latter stages of life.
“I’d really like to encourage others to consider speaking with their friends and families about the issue and making plans for the latter stages of life.”
An ACP document can be downloaded from the Health Board website by searching for the “Macmillan Advance Care Plan Project”, or by visiting www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/861/page/88434/.
Hard copy ACP documents are available in Macmillan information pods at each of the three main hospitals in North Wales – Wrexham Maelor, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Ysbyty Gwynedd.

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