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Why is ACP so Important?
28 June 2019

Advance Care Planning can be a difficult topic to broach, yet vital in empowering people to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.

By Paul Bashyam, HCA Medical Social Worker

Ever had a friend ask you to help him or her buy chicken rice from the hawker centre? When you get to the correct stall, the owner asks which part of the chicken you would prefer – and you realise you didn’t ask your friend and your friend didn’t tell you. Well, that’s why it’s important to plan ahead.

The same situation happens when a loved one becomes too ill to make his or her own decisions – for instance, in the case of Mr Tan*, a 58 year old suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

One day, Mr Tan developed breathing difficulties and was rushed to the hospital. Upon reaching the hospital, Mr Tan became too ill to speak and soon lost consciousness. The doctors started telling his wife and two adult children about the various procedures and treatments that were needed, and also began asking the family to make decisions on the next course of action. This led to major disagreements between his wife and two children on what they should do next.

Planning Ahead

Well, planning ahead can mean many things to different people. However, one thing that can be done is to consider doing Advance Care Planning (ACP). ACP is a process of planning with your loved ones: sharing your personal values, exploring your healthcare preferences and choosing a loved one who can be your voice in the event you become too ill.

No one chooses to be sick but when sickness comes, it can bring about much uncertainty and illness can make patients and families feel that they are trapped. Often, families want the best for their loved ones and more often than not, family conflicts are a result of misguided but good intentions.

Having families share their experiences of illness and what they value in their life can help family members feel more empathic toward each other; that they all share common concerns and struggles. Furthermore, having conversations with family about what is important in life can help empower them to reach the best decision. One that they will not lose sleep over.

At the end of the day, it’s about starting that conversation. It’s not about giving up, it’s about clarifying what is important.

Find out more about Advance Care Planning (ACP) at https://www.livingmatters.sg/

*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved