Advance care planning is the process of thinking about, talking about and planning for future health care – including end-of-life care. It helps you, the important people in your life and your health care team understand what you want – especially if you can no longer speak for yourself.
Rolleston farmer Thomas Mitchell is fronting a promotion for the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Kia whakarite: Be prepared advance care planning campaign.
Mitchell runs cattle, grazes horses and owns a business supplying steel cattle and sheep yards. He also has a young family (partner Jerrica and two-year-old son Carter) and is now turning his mind to how he might support them if something happened to him.
An advance care plan includes what is meaningful to you, your values and the ways you would like those caring for you to look after your spiritual and emotional needs. It can also cover whether you want to donate your organs, what sort of funeral you would like and where your important papers are.
Before his involvement with Kia whakarite, advance care planning was a new concept to Mitchell. However, he now sees it as something important for both him and his family.
“We are all going to die one day and many of us will face poor health before then, so it is important to be prepared. I’m only 32 so hopefully it is a way off yet,” Mitchell says. “However, with a family now I am conscious that I am the breadwinner for our household. Given I work in a dangerous job, it is a distinct possibility that I may have an accident, so we need to be prepared for that.”
Mitchell has now started discussions about advance care planning with his family and thinks it is something people should talk about more.
“It’s the sensible thing to do and eliminates many difficult situations that could arise in the future,” he adds.
While it is natural that people are hesitant about discussing advance care planning, as getting sick and dying isn’t something people like to think about too much.
Mitchell believes the most important part of advance care planning is starting the conversation.
“Have discussions with friends and loved ones about the things that are important to you, so they understand your wishes and can tell your health care team if you are ever unable to.”
Free advance care planning resources are available at myacp.org.nz or by contacting your local health provider.