Have Your Final Say

The vexatious issue about people’s wishes at the end of their lives is being placed on the agenda by Queensland Health.

The Department has launched a campaign encouraging people to have a conversation about their wishes at the end of life.

end of life

Deputy Director-General of the Clinical Excellence Division Dr John Wakefield says the aim of the campaign was to normalize discussing death and encourage people to plan for their care at the end of life.

“Death is a certainty for everyone and yet as part of our culture, it is rarely spoken about. Unless we take the time to ask, it can be very difficult for families and clinicians to make decisions with confidence that this would be what the person wants, particularly when a patient’s capacity to make and communicate that decision is diminished.”

“It’s also important that it’s not seen as something only discussed when someone has a terminal diagnosis or a short time to live.”

Dr Wakefield says the majority of Queenslanders aren’t aware of advanced care planning.

“For most people the death of a loved one or even an acquaintance is a rare experience, making it a relatively unknown process to many.”

“Good care at the end of life is about quality of life, however clinicians can only really assist patients achieve this if they know what this means for each individual patient.”

“The absence of this information when and where it is needed can and often does lead to unnecessary and unwanted interventions or simply treatment which is against the wishes of the person.”

Dr Wakefield says it can be as simple as talking with your loved ones about what is important to them when considering end of life care.

“Write down your wishes in your own words and give it to your loved ones and if you’re a carer, make the time to do this with the person you are caring for. Don’t be afraid, most people will want to talk about it if they are asked.”

“While the conversation can be difficult, the risk of not talking about this is that your healthcare team and family won’t know what’s important to you.”

For more information on care at the end of life visit: qld.gov.au/careatendoflife