During Dying Matters Awareness Week, we launched our Advance Care Plan card, with the aim of encouraging conversations with patients about their future care. As with an organ donor card, the card will hold key details that will alert medical professionals that a patient has an Advance Care Plan in place that should, if possible, be followed.
The card will be the size of a credit card and will include the patient’s name and next of kin or significant other’s details.
Michael Thomas, one of our End of Life Educational and Clinical Skills Facilitators, came up with the concept, he explains, “I joined St Luke’s last May, just in time for the Dying Matters ‘Let’s Talk’ Conference. This was what inspired me to come up with the idea for the card. Death and dying is currently one of the most topical health care topics, within the media, but unfortunately it is not a conversation enough of us have.”
Michael explained that he had come across an elderly lady who had been admitted to the Emergency Department of a hospital and because staff couldn’t find her Advance Care Plan, her wish to die at her nursing home was not fulfilled.
“I asked myself why we don’t have something as easily recognisable as an organ donor card? We need something that is simple and would be easily recognisable anywhere, by any medical professional”.
Michael adds, “It has to be stressed however, that whilst all wishes would be respected and followed as much as practically possible. It is not a legally binding document. Should an individual have wishes that pertain to the refusal of treatment for instance, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, then this should be discussed in the first instance with the individuals General Practitioner or Healthcare Professional and/or their personal solicitor.”
Templates for Advance Care Plans can be accessed online in our Information Hub on the St Luke’s website www.stlukes-hospice.org.uk/acp.