Background The Respecting Patient Choices® program in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) received additional funding in 2013 to increase staff from 1 to 2.4 (full time equivalent). Community and primary health forums in the ACT in 2012 and 2013 identified the need to increase awareness in the community for both advance care planning (ACP) and end-of-life (EoL) discussions utilising mass media promotion and wider dissemination of information.
Aim To raise community awareness and education of ACP and to normalise conversations around EoL.
Methods ACT Medicare Local developed and launched the BeMyVoice campaign in May 2014. This included developing a website as well as print and electronic advertising. The campaign was accompanied by community education sessions delivered by RPC across major town centres in the ACT as well as general practitioner education initiatives.
Results Queries for information on ACP including consultations during the media campaign period May–December 2014 increased by 99% (n = 366) and documents added to the clinical record at Canberra Hospital increased by 26% (n = 410) compared to the same period in the previous year.
Discussion ACP and normalisation of EoL discussions requires a cultural shift that occurs over time. The media campaign in conjunction with education and other initiatives needs to be maintained over the long term to achieve this goal.
Conclusion In the ACT an ongoing multifaceted approach including: media; face to face conversations; health professional and community education is proving successful in increasing awareness of ACP and normalising EoL discussions.
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