Plan Now for the Unthinkable

Filed under News, Sport & Recreation ~ by Press on  27 Feb 2019

All Australians must plan ahead for unexpected medical events .

How do you motivate fit and healthy Australians to plan for a time when they are too unwell to make their own medical decisions?

Advance Care Planning Australia developed a series of creative messages to highlight this poorly understood but increasing health priority, including one that depicts an unconscious patient in hospital, unable to make their own medical decisions.

The campaign is part of National Advance Care Planning Week which is being held to raise awareness Australia-wide, from 1 – 5 April.

We know that around 50% of people will be unable to make their own end-of-life medical treatment decisions, yet only 15% of Australians have an Advance Care Directive,” said Adelaide GP, Dr Chris Moy, Chair of the Ethics and Medico-legal Committee of the Australian Medical Association and ambassador for National Advance Care Planning Week.

While the image may be confronting to some people, for those of us working at the coalface of health care it’s reality. We see too many people end up in situations like this – with no voice or choice in the care they receive. We need to do better.

Our aim is for people to look beyond the ‘shock factor’ and educate themselves about the benefits of advance care planning and the peace-of-mind it can bring to individuals and their families.

We constantly hear about healthy ageing in the media, but too much of it is focussed on the present. An important part of health ageing is making informed choices about your care and planning ahead for future events. Advance care planning can provide clarity and certainty, rather than leaving it to others to decide for you,” said Dr Moy.

The confronting image is currently being shared on social media, where it is stimulating interest and discussion.

With the understanding that different people respond to different messages, this image is part of a broader suite of creative images and messages, including those that reinforce personal autonomy and choice, encouraging people to take active control of their future health care.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning promotes care that is consistent with your goals, values, beliefs and preferences. It prepares you and others to plan for future health care and a time when you may no longer be able to communicate those decisions yourself.

Key facts
  • Almost 50% of people will not be able to make their own end-of-life medical decisions[1].
  • Less than 15% of Australians have documented their preferences in an Advance Care Directive[2] (ACD). (30% of people aged 65+ have an ACD)[3]
  • A third of Australians will die before the age of 75[4].
  • Most people die after a chronic illness, not a sudden event)[3].
  • Research shows that advance care planning can reduce anxiety, depression and stress experienced by families and that they’re more likely to be satisfied with their loved one’s care[5].

[1] Silveira MJ, Kim SY and Langa KM. Advance directives and outcomes of surrogate decision making before death. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010; 362: 1211-8.

[2] White B, Tilse C, Wilson J, et al. Prevalence and predictors of advance directives in Australia. Internal medicine journal. 2014; 44: 975-80.

[3] Detering K, Buck K et al. Prevalence and correlates of advance care directives among older Australians accessing health and residential aged care services: multicentre audit study

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics. Deaths, Australia, 2016. Available at (last accessed 17 April 2018).

[5] Detering KM, Hancock AD, Reade MC and Silvester W. The impact of advance care planning on end of life care in elderly patients: randomised controlled trial. Bmj. 2010; 340: c1345.

    About Advance Care Planning Australia

    Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) is a national program funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health, enabling Australians to make the best choices for their life and health care.

    ACPA increases advance care planning resources across health sectors and NGOs, improves workforce capability, produces information resources for diverse consumers and communities, and builds the evidence base. For more information, visit

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