MANY families may be left to make difficult decisions in a health crisis because they do not know the wishes of loved ones.
While 82 per cent of the population say it is important to have plans, only 50 per cent have spoken with their partner and 25 per cent with their children, according to Palliative Care Australia.
The organisation’s research also revealed only 10 per cent had spoken about a health plan with their doctor.
Health Minister Roger Cook today launched the Advance Care Planning campaign at Midland Men’s Shed, where he encouraged people of all ages to have a health care plan in the event of illness or death.
He said less than 10 per cent of Western Australian adults are known to have completed a plan.
“We don’t want our loved ones to have to negotiate forms and paperwork that could be completed in advance,” he said.
“This is about peace of mind for the individual and for our loved ones.”
Midland Men’s Shed President Dave Savage (70) of South Guildford, said when his late mother’s health deteriorated, his family realised they needed to plan.
“Her will and funeral were sorted out by the time she went into hospital,” he said. “When a family plans properly, things are much easier.”
The loss of his 93-year-old mother Zita Savage, of Mundaring, caused him to reflect on his own plans.
“My wife and I have talked about the future but after this palliative care workshop, I realise we need to talk more,” he said.
“My mother had all her faculties when she made her decisions but if we’d left it much later, it would have been much more difficult.”
Mr Savage said he was aware family rifts could happen when someone died without making their wishes clear.
The campaign is part of National Advance Care Planning Week to increase awareness of the need to have end-of-life discussions, and remove the stigma around these conversations.
Community group workshops by Palliative Care WA provide information about organ and tissue donation, wills, Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship, advanced health directives and understanding treatment and palliative care options.
Palliative Care WA is holding half-day workshops throughout the year to reach more people through the campaign funded by health care groups.
For details, visit www.palliativecarewa.asn.au or call 1300 551 704.