Unspoken: What will become of me?, bringing up the tough conversation for end of life planning

Ageing and advanced care planning were the topics up for discussion at a community forum which highlighted the importance of having conversations about end of life preparations.

Unspoken: What will become of me? provided an outlet for community members to access information and resources about how to commence end of life preparations, and methods for having the tough conversations with family members.

Health Issues Centre CEO Danny Vadasz said conversations on end of life planning didn’t “seem to make it to the dinner table”.

“We talk about everything else, and if you think about it there aren't many taboo subjects left in the world today,” Mr Vadasz said.

Unspoken: What will become of me ? was constructed to address the fact that for some reason we as a community don’t feel comfortable talking about end of life.

“It can be easy to put it into the too hard basket.”

The forum included peer education sessions to provide information on the Victorian Palliative Care Strategy, Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act, and the Assisted Dying Legislation.

Mr Vadasz said advanced care planning ensured individuals maintained control of their end of life wishes.

“If you haven’t told someone or made record of what you want for end of life treatment, it will be left to medical professionals, clinicians and families to figure out what you wanted to happen,” Mr Vadasz said.

Bendigo Health’s advanced care planning coordinator Megan Adams said it was challenging for families when they were left to make the “important decisions”.

“It’s also challenging for health professionals...we need to support our families and patients,” Mrs Adams said.

“If we know what you want in advance, it will make everyone’s lives much easier.”

Mrs Adams said advanced care planning was important to Bendigo Health to assist them in delivering care to patients.

“We want to deliver care that’s inline with our patients’ values and preferences.”

Ray Ratcliffe attended with his wife Nona to find out more about end of life planning.

“At this stage we are consulting with our children to try and formulate something for our final years,” Mr Ratcliffe said.

“It’s very important for the peace of mind of our children, it’s coming to the time when we have to make a decision.”

Kathleen Griffith is aged in her 80s and lives independently, she came to the forum to receive expert advice on end of life planning.

“I have seen a lot of people who have died and left estates which haven’t been handled very well,” Mrs Griffith said.

“And I don’t know very much on how to assist in my own preparations so I came along to find out more.”

Mrs Griffith had a humorous and optimistic outlook on her final years.

“I’m hoping to go to heaven and leave no debts,” Mrs Griffith laughed.

The forum was held in collaboration with the Council of the Ageing Victoria, Bendigo Health, Health Issues Victoria and other organisations.

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