Background The awareness and uptake of advance care planning (ACP) amongst Australians remains low. National surveys assessing community understanding of ACP demonstrate that only 50% have heard of the term, and even less understand it. Although healthcare settings provide the opportunity to have ACP conversations, health practitioners lack the understanding, confidence and time to facilitate these.
Methods Following a rapid environmental scan and national consultation, ACPA developed a volunteer-facilitated ACP referral service whereby healthcare practitioners refer their patients for free, personalised and phone-based ACP discussions. Based on an initial needs assessment to determine the patient’s current ACP knowledge base, numerous conversations will include information on thinking about values and preferences, how to have ACP conversations with loved ones, and the completion, witnessing and storage of documents if the person chooses this step.
Results Since its pilot launch in October 2021, 52 referrals have been made to the program primarily by registered nurses (35%), allied health staff (31%), general practitioners (9%), Aged Care Assessment Team assessors (8%), health administration officers (8%), and 9% from other referral sources. of the 52 referrals, 13% have completed the program from start to finish, 26% have opted out at various stages within the process, and the remaining 61% are still in progress, as these iterative conversations take time and re-visiting.
Evaluation of the impact of the pilot program is pending, however patient feedback from health practitioners referring patients has been positive.
Conclusion Health practitioner utilisation of the referral service for their patients may help to improve the awareness and uptake of ACP conversations, and documentation. Further marketing and promotion of the program is required to provide further reach and impact across Australia.
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