Advance Care Planning training for healthcare professionals
There is no uncertainty about the importance and need for Advance Care Planning for end of life care. The Government, the NHS and all professional and voluntary sector bodies agree. The problem is putting it into practice.
To date, there has been a limited push behind official endorsement for Advance Care Planning in the form of training and facilitation resources for healthcare professionals. However, there are practical and emotional barriers for individuals in their care who are wanting to make decisions about their future care. With targeted communication skills training, healthcare professionals could play an enabling role for patients wanting to set down their preferences and wishes for a time when they do not have the mental capacity to do so.
With this in mind, I attended a training day on Advance Care Planning, organised by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) and Dying Matters. This was a very worthwhile experience that covered the relevant legal framework – the Mental Capacity Act 2005 – along with the communication skills needed to initiate difficult conversations and walk patients through the specifics of Advance Care Planning.
My conclusion from this training event is that there needs to be a greater emphasis on the practical aspects of how individuals can record their wishes and preferences. This includes deciding which medical treatments they might want to refuse were they to lose the capacity to participate in decisions about their treatment. The aim of My Living Will is to provide the necessary information to help make these difficult decisions.