Future Care Planning

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Future care planning is a process of setting an ambition for how you’d like to be treated if you were to become seriously ill. But, setting your wishes for the future can be enormously empowering, even if you’re young or in good health.

What is Future Care Planning?

If you were to become seriously ill, you may not be in a position to state your wishes at that time. Would you want your family to care for you? Who would you trust to speak and act on your behalf? How would you feel about certain types of treatment? What level of intervention would you want around life sustaining support? 

Many people are so put off by the idea of having to consider their own mortality that they avoid the subject altogether. This may make things a bit easier in the short-term but won’t improve your chances of living forever (unfortunately). 

Zoe Harris, CEO of MyCareMatters, a social enterprise that aims to improve the standard of care in a care settings, recently outlined the importance of future care planning:

“None of us know what’s round the corner. It’s no good saying I’ll do it when I need it, by that time it’ll probably be too late and it’s unfair to leave your family unsure about what you’d want to have happen (ripe territory for family fall outs), if you are not in a position to make decisions for yourself… If we approach the subject whilst we still feel immortal we might change our decisions in the future”.

What’s included in the process of future care planning?

It’s up to you to decide how formal you’d like the process to be. Some people prefer to keep things casual and conversational, whilst others may opt for a more documented approach. You may want to decide everything upfront, then discuss it with family or friends. Or, you may favour a more democratic approach and invite others to feed in to your plan. 

Future care planning need not be a depressing subject to discuss with your loved ones. Taking ownership of your health isn’t a new concept by any means. It’s similar to taking out life insurance, writing a will or signing up to an on-demand healthcare service. It’s all about proactive planning for ‘what if’, as you would in many other areas of your life.

Where to start   

To begin, make a list of all the people whom you’d like to involve in the process of future care planning. If you’re under hospital care, you may wish to include any doctors or nurses who are currently treating you. If not, family and/or friends are ideal.    

Then, build your ‘NO’ list. These are the things that you know you’d refuse if you were ill. The list could cover anything from not wanting to be admitted to hospital under certain circumstances, to refusing life support or resuscitation if the worst were to happen. 

Next, list out any special beliefs you have (religious or otherwise) that should be factored in to your care. It’s also useful to mention any personal preferences you have for where you would like to be cared for. You could research local care homes or hospitals and note down those you would consider being admitted to if your family felt you could no longer live alone. It’s useful to think about who will look after your children or pets if you became ill or were admitted to hospital. Speak to neighbours or friends and perhaps leave a key with one of them, just in case. 

Then there’s the more legally binding stuff to consider. It can be sensible to appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney to make decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapacitated. This would fall under the ‘health and welfare’ category as explained on the gov.uk website. It’s useful to do this while you’re still fit, healthy and of sound mind as it’s impossible to predict the circumstances in which you’d need one. And, by then, it might be too late.

Next steps

If the thought of future care planning seems a little overwhelming at the moment, just start with a chat. Let your friends and family know you’re considering your future healthcare options because you’d like to plan and prepare for the unknown. Reassure them that you’re healthy and this isn’t a subtle way of telling them something is wrong. It’s a positive process and may encourage them to take ownership of their own healthcare too. There are also plenty of resources out there to help you through the process. MyCareMatters have produced the ‘My Future Care Handbook’ which, in the words of Zoe Harris, “Enables people to think about, record and share their decisions around their future care.”

You can buy a copy of the ‘My Future Care Handbook’ by clicking here.

At Vala Health, we create digital tools that allow people to take control of their healthcare. From monitoring your fitness levels to accessing on-demand healthcare services right when you need them, it’s easier than ever to keep your healthcare on track. Future care planning is a great initiative to secure your wishes, whatever your current age or health status. Get in touch to find out more about on-demand healthcare and how to plan for the present and future.

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