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SCDHB social worker Paula Evans encourages more people to have an advanced care plan. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

by Alexia Johnston

A growing number of South Canterbury residents are welcoming the idea of advance care planning.

The concept encourages people to have “conversations” with their family and note down what their wishes are for their healthcare and end-of-life care.

South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) social worker Paula Evans said more and more people were taking advantage of the initiative.

She said the concept gave everyone a chance to think about what was important to them.

concept helped ensure everyone was on the same page and the person the plan was for could rest assured their wishes would be followed.

“Working with palliative care, I’ve sat with a lot of families. This can be good for families or [it] can go terribly wrong because it’s a time of life that grief can cause a lot of issues in families,” she said.

“An advance care plan can prevent some of that.”

Mrs Evans said the plan was not just about medical elements.

“It’s about your values and beliefs.”

Among the aspects that had caused grief at an already difficult time was music, she said.

“Music is one thing people have fought over – what music they are going to play at a funeral.”

She said it was one of many elements people could have written down in an advance care plan.

“It’s good to talk about it, but it’s also better to have it written down.”

The plan is something which can also guide medical staff, particularly if the person they are caring for can no longer tell them what they want.

People with an advance care plan are encouraged to let family know where it is in their home and to share it with their GP.

Copies of the plan are available from the SCDHB, GPs and non-government organisations.

Mrs Evans said the plan was for everyone – not just for the elderly or those who were dying.

Today marks Advance Care Plan Day, a national initiative designed to make more people aware of the concept.

For more information visit advancecareplanning.org.nz