The one certainty in life is that we all have to die one day – given the choice though, we would rather pass away peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones, rather than being kept alive for years as a “vegetable”. The medical profession can maintain “life”, but what quality of survival do we have if we can’t recognize family or are unable to eat or undertake the basics of life?
This is a conversation 90% of people want to have, but very few do as it is an uncomfortable & upsetting topic. However, great peace of mind can be gained if we legally describe how we wish to be medically treated if our quality of survival is poor. The wishes of family & religious beliefs may influence this discussion, but most religions accept that life should not be prolonged if dignity is lost.
Wills & Powers of Attorney do not cover this area so a legal document is necessary (a lawyer is not required for an Advanced Care Plan). Respecting Patient Choices (RPC) is an organization created to help people choose the treatment they wish to receive &/or when certain treatment is to be withheld. RPC happens to be run by my next door neighbour, Assoc Prof Bill Silvester. Bill is a Senior Intensive Care Specialist at the Austin Hospital – a very caring man who treats many people close to death, either due to accident or terminal illness.
For further details you will find a link to RPC via our website. Simply click on the Resources tab at the top of the page, then click on the Respecting Patient Choices link which can be found under Useful Links.
Make sure you use Victoria as the state – there are several leaflets & articles. On the home page, the 4th item down is a very interesting recording of a Jon Faine discussion on this topic (53 mins) There are several forms you can complete or you can contact RPC for assistance in documenting your wishes.
Click on the link for a copy of the brief information brochure regarding Advanced Care Planning.