Advance Care Plans to be Included on e-Health Records

Telling your loved ones how you wish to be cared for as you get close to the end of your life will become easier, with the Gillard Government to invest $10 million to enable Advance Care Directives to be stored on the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record.

“Most families want to be true to the wishes of their loved ones as they approach the end of their lives, and Advance Care Directives allow that to happen,” said Ms Plibersek.

“Including Advanced Care Directives on the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record will mean people will be able to share their end of life plans with any of their chosen doctors, hospitals, family or carers,” said Ms Plibersek.

Announcing the initiative at the 4th International Society of Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care Conference, Ms Plibersek said it would ensure all Australians could have control over their end-of-life care.

“Because it’s online, the advance care plan will be easily available,” Ms Plibersek said.

“For example, if an elderly man from the Gold Coast is admitted to a hospital while visiting his family in Melbourne, his treating doctors and nurses would have access to information about his end of life care wishes.

“That could include information about any treatments he does or does not want under particular circumstances.

“Around 110,000 people each year need some form of end-of-life care. More than half of all deaths occurred in hospitals, yet most Australians would prefer to die in their own homes.

“This suggests that many people do not get their wish in terms of where they spend their final days. It can be a difficult conversation for patients, families and health professionals alike, but having patient intentions clearly expressed in an advanced care plan will make it easier for their wishes to be met,” Ms Plibersek said.

Ms Plibersek said the Australian Government was also providing an additional $800,000 over two years for the evidence-based Respecting Patient Choices advance care planning project led by Melbourne-based expert Associate Professor Bill Silvester, President of the International Society of Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care.

Associate Professor Silvester has worked with many patients on end-of-life care planning and welcomes the addition of advance care directives to Australia’s eHealth record system.

“By putting advance care directives online, it guarantees the patient is at the centre of their health care. For example, if a patient is admitted to hospital, doctors will be able to quickly see exact details of their wishes for end-of-life care. It ensures that the patient stays front and centre and maintains control of what will be happening to them when they can no longer speak for themselves,” said Associate Professor Silvester.

There will be consultation with consumers and healthcare providers on the design of the proposed system to ensure it is fit for use nationally and fit for purpose for consumers and clinicians.

The Government is also providing $50 million to deliver community-based palliative care and infrastructure-support services under the Better Access to Palliative Care in Tasmania program – grant applications are open to all private and non-government providers of palliative care services until 30 May.

An Advance Care Directive is a written document regarding someone’s wishes for their future health care.