Two Busselton medical professionals are undertaking a research project into end of life plans and are encouraging the community participation.
The Rural Clinical School of WA Busselton lead medical coordinator Sarah Moore and University of WA doctor of medicine student Anna Kelly are part of research team for the Busselton Advance Care Planning Project.
The project is part of the scholarly activity component of the Ms Kelly’s degree.
It aims to develop an audit tool for analysing the contents of advance care directives.
Advance care directives allow patients to write down their wishes for their future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters.
Ms Kelly said through their research, they aimed to understand the kinds of advance care directives used in the Busselton community.
“We want to know the type of information people put in the documents, how the documents are communicated and how they are interpreted by doctors, and if this aligns with the patients wishes,” she said.
Dr Moore said the number of people who had advance care directives was low.
“There are issues around uptake, and there are lots of different reasons for that,” she said.
“There is denial or people say they’ll leave it to later when they need to do it, but by then it is too late and the decision is left to family, which may or may not reflect the wishes of the patient.”
Ms Kelly said there was a misconception that end of life care was only a discussion for the elderly.
“I think it is a conversation that everyone should have, even people my age,” she said.
“Just simply, if this happens, this is what I want. It takes pressure off someone you love from making a decision in distress as there is a legal document.
“Research shows people who have plans, have a better end of life journey, begin things like palliative care earlier and there are lower levels of distress to family.”
Ms Moore said having a plan also helped facilitate the end of life conversation among families.
“Older patients sometimes feel selfish to go against family – they think their families wishes count more than their own,” she said.
“That is their perception, but that can be a real stumbling block so it is important to be clear about your wishes.”
For more information on the study, contact 9752 6400.