Wellingtonian Cheryl Cameron has lived with Parkinson’s for more than 11 years and came to the idea of advance care planning when she had an emergency visit to the hospital.
‘It made me think about at what point I would want to stop medical intervention. So, I’ve written down my wishes, and my husband Gary and I have shared it with our children, so that they all know my thoughts if they’re confronted with hard decisions.’
She says her family is very accepting of her decisions and reassured that she’s thought about the care she does and doesn’t want if she is ever unable to speak for herself.
A copy of her advance care plan is also lodged with her GP. ‘It’s very freeing knowing that it’s done. And, of course, it’s easily updated any time.’
Cheryl is one of the six New Zealanders who feature in Kia kōrero | Let’s talk, a campaign that encourages people to plan for their future health care, with a focus on what matters to them.
Advance care planning addresses important questions such as where you would want to be cared for if you could no longer care for yourself, what type of care you would like towards the end of your life and specific worries you might have about your wellbeing, being ill or dying.
The advance care planning programme is led by the Health Quality & Safety Commission and supported by district health boards.
“Advance Care Planning Day is an opportunity to start your plan today. It’s a timely reminder to talk to your loved ones and health care team about future treatment and care preferences,” says Ria Earp, chair of the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s Te Rōpū Māori (Māori advisory group).
“You don’t have to complete your plan all in one go, the important thing is to make a start. Having an advance care plan makes your values and beliefs clearer for your doctors and whānau. It is a gift to your whānau to guide them in the future.”
Kuia Keri Kaa of Ngāti Porou is also one of the six people featured in the campaign. She is receiving palliative care and has come to realise how important it is for her to be cared for by her community within a Māori context and speaking te reo Māori.
“Since I got sick, I started fretting for home. I didn’t think being cared for by home people was important, but it is.”Keri says we all need to prepare for our final days.
‘When people are dying, a lot of them are frightened, as I am, because they don’t know where they’re going. But everybody has to go sometime. You’ve got to make sure your canoe is ready and that you’ve got your paddle on board, because you’ve got to have an ending to the story.’
You can kōrero with your whānau about your wishes for future health care using the advance care planning guide available at www.myacp.org.nz.