Advance care plans – a heart-to-heart worth having
20 March 2023
As our parents and relatives age, we often take time to find out more about their childhood memories or write down a treasured family recipe, but there are other heart-to-hearts worth having, those that make sure our loved ones’ preferences for future care are known and respected.
National Advance Care Planning week, running from 20-26 March, is a timely opportunity to start having those discussions with our loved ones about their wishes.
In Queensland, research collected for the Public Trustee in 2021 showed a number of community sectors were less likely to have these conversations.
Public Trustee Samay Zhouand said the research showed that people from Queensland’s non-English speaking communities – also known as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities - were less likely to discuss advance life planning or appoint an executor for a Will when compared to the State average.
“A key reason identified in the research was that CALD communities were less comfortable about engaging in key advance life planning and also identified a general lack of knowledge about the range of options available to them,” Mr Zhouand said.
“This is a particular concern and one that the Public Trustee and other agencies are keen to address through developing and offering a range of targeted multi-language resources and translation services.”
Mr Zhouand said that while conversations about advance care planning are sometimes hard to initiate, they are incredibly valuable in ensuring a person’s wishes about their healthcare are known while they are able to talk about them.
“Advance care planning is about making decisions about future health care and deciding on the care you’d like to receive if you are unable to make decisions for yourself,” he said.
“It starts with a conversation about the important things in life – your culture and values, thoughts and fears, the choices you would like made in relation to your health care and financial matters and who you trust to make decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to make them for yourself.
“This information can be recorded in an Enduring Power of Attorney, Advance Health Directive or even a Statement of Choices to either appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf or inform people about your wishes.”
Mr Zhouand said that while it can be difficult to initiate a conversation about advance care planning, it often brought unexpected rewards.
“Culture and tradition also take on greater significance as we age and you can learn more about your ethnicity from discussing your loved ones’ wishes with them.
“It can be a great way to connect in with parts of your heritage you may not have considered, and to understand the hopes, dreams and fears of your loved ones as personal decisions like advance care can take a person’s journey full circle, bringing them to their core values and beliefs.”
The Public Trustee has several fact sheets about making a Will or Enduring Power of Attorney and also offers a translation service available free for people who do not speak English as a first language: Fact sheets and translation service information - The Public Trustee of Queensland (pt.qld.gov.au)
Other advance care planning information and resources
- Advance Care Planning Australia
- My Care, My Choices | Queensland Government (health.qld.gov.au)
- Understanding advance care planning | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government
Advance care planning resources in languages other than English