How advance care planning means that people with dementia have more control over their future care
Advance care planning can play a crucial role in multiple areas of both short term and long-term care provision.
By giving an insight into a person’s wishes and preferences for future care, it can help to inform care staff about the type of care a person might prefer in the short term, which is a great benefit in the development of a truly person-centred care plan. (Find out more about advance care planning and general care planning here).
And by clearly signifying what measures and treatments a person wishes or does not wish for their future care ahead of the point where they are no longer able to make those decisions due to cognitive decline, it helps care staff to understand the long-term process of care provision, always keeping it tailored to an individual’s needs and wishes.
Making decisions in the short term that can better inform care in the long term is critical, and this is especially true in care residents with dementia. Advance care planning is a great benefit for a person with dementia because it gives them the opportunity to make their preferences for future care known at a time when they are still able to.
Even those closest to someone might not have considered all the eventualities of care for their loved one, especially in an emergency, and it can be distressing for someone to have to make a decision on behalf of their loved one without fully knowing what it is they would want. An advance care plan can greatly reduce the impact of issues like these because it gives family and carers the knowledge to make more informed decisions on their loved one’s behalf.
What is advance care planning?
Advance care planning is the process by which, with the support of family, friends, carers and health and social staff, a person can consider and decide upon the measures for care and treatment that they want in the future ahead of an anticipated decline in cognitive function. It should be an ongoing process that is regularly reviewed, because someone’s wishes might change along the care journey.
By developing an advance care plan, a person also has the opportunity to explore any treatment options that anticipate a decline in decision-making abilities and consider what they want and importantly what they don’t want; for example, they may wish to make an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, it gives them the opportunity to nominate a Lasting Power of Attorney, or they can specify the setting in which they want end of life care to take place, if possible.
It’s important to remember, however, that an advance care plan cannot be made if a person does not have the ability to make the statements involved within. Though an advance care plan can often take place over many conversations and reviews and can be drawn up with the help of those important to the person, it must be made and consented to by them.
Read here for more information on advance care planning.
Advance statements and dementia
One of the key areas of consideration for advance care planning for people with dementia is making an advance statement. An advance statement gives a person the opportunity to clearly define their preferences for future care once they are no longer able to either make decisions for themselves or able to indicate what they want, which makes it key in long-term dementia care. It also means that it is important for people with dementia to conduct an advance care statement, as well as an advance care plan, as soon after their diagnosis as possible.
An advance statement can come in the form of a list of statements and could include things like wanting to stay at home as long as possible, who to involve in decision-making, and who not to involve, spiritual or ethical considerations for care provision, and others. An advance statement is not legally binding, but where possible it should always be considered and complied with.
The benefit of advance statements for those caring for people with dementia
By using an advance statement, care staff have the ability to anticipate the preferences and wishes of a person in the later stages of dementia at a time when they might not fully understand what they initially wanted. Through an advance statement, they can have the opportunity to better understand a person’s values, and this provides vital ongoing opportunities to enhance the choice and control an individual has over their treatment and care needs, or for someone making those choices on their behalf.
It can help in the decision-making of care staff when it comes to best interests because in an advance statement, they have a measure by which they can qualify any changes to care asked for by the person in the later stages of dementia, and they can know, to the best of their abilities, they can provide the person-centred care that is in line with what the person wanted when they had the ability to clearly outline it.
The importance of care planning
Ultimately, advance care plans, like general care plans, are a fundamental part of the process of providing truly person-centred care to those with dementia. Person Centred Software’s mission is to offer a Connected Care Platform of features and products, including a digital care planning system, that guides people through their care journey and offers care staff the tools they need to provide the best care possible.
Read here to find out more about Person Centred Software’s digital care planning system, mCare.