Whether you are living with a long term condition, life limiting illness, or adjusting to old age, it is important to think about healthcare planning to ensure that in later years there is care and support for you.
The NHS and local Councils are working closer together, pooling budgets, working with other partners and tuning into a more proactive approach to end of life planning.
Across the NHS, staff are encouraged to record critical information about a patient’s care, treatment and preferences in an Anticipatory Care Plan. This promotes “thinking ahead” around end of life. The plan can be stored and accessed by all healthcare professionals involved in your care. Not everyone has one – it’ll depend on how you are. Ask your GP about it.
Electronic Palliative Care Summaries (ePCS) are files shared across computer systems so that if anything happens when your GP surgery is closed, others can access your health records. Information will be available to doctors, nurses, receptionists in out-of-hours medical centres, hospital staff in A&E and staff who answer the NHS 24 helpline (08454 24 24 24). This ensures everyone’s got your information – saves your trying to remember or having to repeat it. It provides information on your medical condition, treatment, medication you are taking, who your carer is and any preferences. Your GP can give you a copy of the information held on you. Your records will only be shared appropriately.
Even if you are perfectly healthy now, you may have strong feelings about the kind of care you would prefer should anything happen to you. Final Fling allows you to record your Wishes at end of life here and set up a formal Advance Decision instruction for your healthcare here. You can print this off and provide it to your GP. Once your GP has your instructions, s/he will keep this on file and share it electronically as appropriate.
Thinking and planning ahead in this way is still relatively new – some health boards (and governments) are further advanced than others. As long as this approach is still ‘everyone’s responsibility’, the risk is that no-one takes responsibility – so don’t wait for someone else to make that move. Take control!
Advance Care planning guidance: Planning for your future care is a guide for the public by the National End of Life Care programme with Dying Matters and the University of Nottingham, Feb 2012
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