Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) has welcomed National Volunteer Week’s 2019 theme, ‘Making a world of difference’, taking the opportunity to acknowledge the nationwide impact of its “small but mighty” volunteer team of 12.
As the national authority on advance care planning, ACPA has empowered thousands of Australians to plan for a time when they are unable to make their own healthcare decisions, due to illness or incapacity. However, many more Australians have not taken steps to consider future care planning.
Advanced care planning is an important consideration, yet despite an ageing population, planning awareness and uptake in Australia remain low with less than 15 per cent of Australians having documented their preferences in an advance care directive (ACD).1
In addition, research shows;
- Almost 50 per cent of people will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions.2
- About 30 per cent of people aged 65 or over have an ACD.3
- One third of Australians will die before the age of 75.4
- Most people die after a chronic illness, not a sudden event
- Research shows that advance care planning can reduce anxiety, depression and stress experienced by families and they are more likely to be satisfied with their loved one’s care.5
Funded by the Australian government, ACPA operates a free, nationwide advisory service which is part operated by volunteers. Each month they receive hundreds of calls from the public and health professionals, seeking help to navigate the complexities of advance care planning.
The volunteers offer specialist advice to callers, which includes starting the conversation, how to write an ACD, and helping them access forms relevant to each state and territory.
The ACPA national advisory service receives queries from a range of people wanting to provide clarity for themselves and their loved ones about their future healthcare. Callers include people with early dementia, those facing a life-limiting disease such as cancer, and health professionals wanting to better support their patients.
The service also receives queries from people with ageing parents, as well as younger individuals keen to safeguard against unexpected medical emergencies.
“Our volunteers are extraordinary individuals who contribute incredible professional expertise and life experience to support Australians across our diverse country with their advance care planning needs,” ACPA Program Director Linda Nolte said.
The Australian government has identified advance care planning as a national healthcare priority, and the development and growth of the National Advisory Service as a key deliverable.
The National Advisory service is available on 1300 208 582 from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm AEST.