Program director Linda Nolte said while many health care professionals understood the importance of advance care planning in supporting patient care, they felt they needed more training and support to improve their ability to handle what were “robust conversations”.
Ms Nolte said given advance care planning was not a standard element in medical, nursing or allied health curricula, this was hardly surprising.
“Dealing with patients suffering from chronic and complex health conditions is tough,” Ms Nolte said.
“There are symptoms to manage, emotions to navigate and loved ones to consider. Asking them to think about a future time when they may be too ill to make their own decisions can be even tougher.
“However, we can’t shy away from these difficult conversations. Research tells us that there are benefits for people and their families, when they take a more active role in their future health care.”
Ms Nolte said the content of ACPA’s free online course was evidence-based and offered practical information for Australian health professionals, including real life case studies and legal considerations.
ACPA was currently working on a project to explore how advance care planning content could be included in Australian tertiary education health programs.
“Given the considerable social and economic challenges that come with a rapidly ageing population, ACPA is strongly of the view that advance care planning should be integrated as a standard Australian curricula element for medicine, nursing and health courses in higher education,” Ms Nolte said.
“We look forward to a future where the next generation of health professionals are equipped with advance care planning knowledge and skills, before they step into our hospitals and clinics. Only then will we succeed in truly empowering and supporting people to make their own treatment decisions.”
Ms Nolte urged education providers interested in becoming involved in the project to contact ACPA at www.advancecareplanning.org.au/.