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Advanced care planning. Presented by Dr Merran Cooper

Advance care planning - how dietitians can plant the seed

Being involved in healthcare can be wonderful when all goes well - working with someone who needs very little medical care  to improve, for example,  or someone who’s really unwell but  makes a full recovery or stabilises.

But we can also feel as if we’ve failed when a person’s health deteriorates - although we shouldn’t. We all die eventually and a common life trajectory is that we get older, we become frailer, our health deteriorates, and we die.

Health professionals are so concerned with fixing people that we may forget to think about where they are on that life trajectory. (Sometimes it’s hard to know - critically ill people can recover, while those with seemingly mild illnesses can become extremely unwell and die.) But it makes sense that, along with our best-case scenario that someone will improve, we should also plan for if they become increasingly unwell.  What does that mean for them? What decisions might they need to make? Is it possible they could have thought about this before it reached the point where they have difficulty communicating?

It takes several mentions of the benefits of advance care planning before someone takes the time to create one - and dietitians can be one of those who plants the seed by bringing it up.  Our care becomes more meaningful if we understand our patients’ goals and wishes if things don’t go to plan.

Dr Merran Cooper, a registered medical doctor and physiotherapist, is the founder of Touchstone Life Care, an organisation specialising in planning for end-of-life. After decades of working in healthcare, as well as her own personal experience caring for both her husband through a terminal illness, and her best friend through a debilitating neurological disease, she believes dying is a time of transitioning where deep healing and transformation can occur if we let it.

Dying. Start the conversation is a 10-minute video, written and produced by Merran, featuring intimate stories from people around the world to inspire those who are dying, caring for them, or working in palliative care. It’s excellent - not to be missed!

To register for the presentation and associated documents including the assessment quiz click here