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Awareness of advance care planning remains low

Survey finds many Australians fear their final wishes may be ignored by their relatives or health professional.

More than one-third of Australians believe their relatives may ignore their wishes near the end of their life.

A survey of 1,000 Australians commissioned by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) also found that 53 per cent of respondents thought their final wishes might be ignored by their health care professional.

According to PCA, many people are not telling their relatives or health professionals what they want at the end of life, such as where they would like to die.

The survey found that almost 90 per cent of respondents lacked an advance care plan, and 78 per cent did not know what an advance care plan was.

The independent online survey of 1000 Australians was commissioned by Palliative Care Australia to gauge community views on dying and end of life care to mark National Palliative Care Week which runs from 20 to 26 May.

"The fact that such a high proportion of people indicated they were not confident their end-of-life wishes will be carried out shows why it is so important that we have mechanisms in place to support people to make decisions about their care, but also to share these decisions with the people who matter most," PCA chief executive Yvonne Luxford said in a statement.

"It is vital that Australians share their wishes with loved ones and health professionals clearly - these are the people who may have to make decisions if you're not able to.

"Not only should you have these discussions but also put it down in writing, for example in an advance care directive."

Luxford said consistent national legislation was needed on advance care planning, and advance care plans should be included in health records so information could be shared with key decision-makers.


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