Lesley Ann Morgan, Rowans Living Well Centre Deputy Manager, discusses some of the issues to be considered when looking to the future, and how attending our Future Planning Group can greatly help the process.
How do I get started on difficult conversations?
Often patients and their families feel lost when it comes to starting difficult conversations. Such as: where do I prefer to be in the last days of my life? What do I need? How do I want my death to be? How can I tell my family I want a burial or cremation?
Patients and families often hold back from having these conversations for fear of upsetting or hurting each other’s feelings. But often, families want to get things right for their loved ones and be an advocate and voice when they can no longer take control.
How can these conversations begin to start?
Having a group in a safe neutral space with a facilitator, to open up and begin to explore these questions and difficult conversations, can be very supportive. It is also a session to give information to help the patient make informed decisions for their future at the end of life. To explore fears and worries in a person-centered way and at the individual’s pace and point of reference.
Once these decisions have been discussed and reached then they can be put aside until they are needed.
Putting your affairs in order
Having correct resources available or sign posting to other agencies can give correct and current legal information and requirements. Guidance in exploring what is a Power of Attorney, the importance of Wills, partnership rights and Next of Kin can be beneficial.
It is an opportunity to start discussions around capacity and consent as well as to test out sensitive talks around where to start with funeral planning and organ donation. We discuss how to start organising what is important for each other, from learning to cook when they have never done this, to handing over the financial running of the household, from explaining where documents are kept, to re-organising utility bills to another named person.
Difficult decision making
It is a chance to explore the meaning of CPR/DNR (options for resuscitation), a question often posed to a patient from professionals. This can be quite daunting and frightening and at times can lead to misunderstanding for both the patient and their families. Advanced care planning can also be discussed as well as presenting an opportunity to think about and record the refusal of treatment. Recording the patient’s wishes is important so family and professionals can acknowledge what the patient would like at the end of their life.
By talking together and beginning to explore these difficult conversations, the patient can feel in control of thier care, treatment and decision-making. Loved ones can also support with the knowledge of getting it right and being an advocate when the patient can no longer discuss this themselves.