Raising awareness

Raising awareness of planning ahead with individuals

Early planning can reduce stress and anxiety for individuals and families.

By introducing the topic of planning ahead you are helping to ensure an individual’s wishes regarding lifestyle, financial and healthcare decisions will be known and they have the opportunity to put in place arrangements to potentially improve their quality of life at a later time when they may not be able to make these decisions independently.

Early planning conversations are often welcomed by individuals and can reduce worry. To make the conversation easier:

  • Start discussing what is important for them in the future - how the person wants to live, not how they want to die
  • Explain that planning ahead is about maintaining control, not giving up control
  • Explain that planning ahead can assist family who may be asked to make decisions in the future

When to discuss planning ahead

A person may also raise the issue of planning ahead if they have had changing life circumstances such as retirement, divorce or death of a spouse. They may also be interested if they have had negative experiences with loved ones who had not done any early planning.

Health and community care professionals should be aware of trigger points in a person’s life when it may be appropriate to raise the issue of planning ahead.

Typical trigger points include:

  • memory problems or signs of early dementia,
  • progression or worsening of a chronic disease,
  • diagnosis of a life limiting illness,
  • increasing dependence on others for support and care,
  • as part of a 75+ health check or chronic disease management plan, or
  • admission to a different form of care arrangement.

What types of planning are important

Planning includes completing a will and financial enduring power of attorney documents. It is also important to ensure that people know about the benefit of health and personal planning including;

  • discussion about what is most important to them and what guides how they make decisions
  • discussion about a person’s future wishes in relation to lifestyle choices such as where they will live, who will support them, and who will care for any pets.
  • how their money may be spent in caring for them as they get older eg consumer directed care
  • the benefits of appointing a substitute decision maker for personal and health care
  • the role of advance care planning

Starting the conversation

Many people will be interested in planning ahead but will be unsure how to start the conversation. Community, health, and home care professionals can help by raising the subject in a positive and supportive manner. Asking questions such as:

  • Have you nominated a person to make decisions for you if you became unwell?
  • Have you legally appointed a substitute decision maker?
  • Have you discussed with your substitute decision maker or family what is important to you in your life?  
  • By asking simple questions such as these you can start a valuable conversation and help people be more prepared. It is important you do not let your own fears or reservations stop you talking about these issues.

What you can do

Planning ahead community education resources kit