Professional Resources and Top Tips

Research from the Royal College of Physicians, shows us that the people we provide care for in our professional role are often waiting for us to broach the subject of advance care planning.

Patients and families will often give us cues that we need to pick up on as these will allow a more honest conversation to follow. Advance care planning is a process of conversations where a person can make decisions in anticipation of future loss of mental capacity. Some people do not wish to join in the conversation which must be respected. It is also important to remember and make people aware that they always have the option to change their minds.

Top tips for health care professionals

  1. Have you thought about your own advance care planning? Research has shown that those who have will be more open to starting conversations with others and better understand the complexities of it.
  2. How confident are you? Learn from others, observe other health care professionals when they have ACP conversations. Consider doing some e- learning on ACP or join one of Rowcroft’s Education ACP online learning events.
  3. Don’t avoid the conversation. We are all responsible to be open to having this conversation. Most patients are waiting for you to pick up on their cues. Think of it as giving them back the control and choice. If in the future they cannot articulate their wishes, they will be known and respected. Framing a conversation around what is important to the individual helps to navigate it more easily.
  4. Consider where you will have the conversation and practice ways to open the conversation. Consider the setting.
  5. Ask what would be important to you in the future? Help me to understand your wishes?
  6. Use language that the person you are talking with can understand. Show empathy and compassion. Be aware that the person you are talking to might feel emotional discussing future wishes.
  7. Ask open questions. Listen to what they say and record their wishes with permission, so others are aware.
  8. Think of the conversation as talking over time; it may well be a series of conversations spanning different visits or appointments. This also allows people to reflect and get some of the documentation in place for themselves.
  9. Does the patient want to include a significant other person in the conversation? Encourage them to share their wishes with family members and to let them know where they keep any written documents.
  10. Are there treatments they would not want or will not benefit them? Do you need to consider a Treatment escalation plan (TEP)?
  11. Consider signposting them to appropriate websites or providing leaflets for further reading.
  12. Respect those in your care who do not want to engage in advance care planning conversations.

Other resources

This A4 guide goes through clinical evidence-based, step-by-step principals of communication for any setting and triggered by the covid pandemic covers approaches to remote phone or video conversations.

Download the advanced care planning worksheet, My Thoughts and Wishes

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