When someone has cancer, it can be difficult to talk about planning ahead for the future, especially if you’re feeling optimistic or are uncertain about the possible outcomes. However, it is never too early to think about how you will manage if the situation changes. Knowing plans are in place can actually ease worries and allow you both to focus more fully on the present.
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An Emergency Care Plan is a document that provides direction and instructions to allow others to provide the care that you would usually provide. Think about the best people to fulfil your carer’s role. Discuss the duties with them and ask for their commitment, then give them and your doctors a copy of the plan. Let the person you’re caring for know about the alternative arrangements. It is a good idea to carry a Carer Emergency Card in your wallet. This tells people that you are a carer and who to contact in an emergency.
The Department of Health has a sample Emergency Care Plan on their website. You can also get print copies of the plan and card by calling the Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222.
Advance care planning
It can be a good idea for a person to plan for their future care and to discuss their wishes with family, friends and the treatment team. This process is called advance care planning and can involve preparing various legal documents. See Advance Care Planning to read more about substitute decision-makers, advance care directives and wills.
Tina Chivende, Social Worker, Cancer Psychosocial Service, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Gabrielle Asprey, Telephone Support Group Facilitator, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Ben Britton, Senior Clinical and Health Psychologist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital, and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, NSW; Valmai Goodwin, Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council QLD; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Zoe Mitchell, Senior Social Worker, Palliative Care, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Amber Rose, Consumer; Carolina Simpson, Policy and Development Officer, Carers NSW.
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