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Helping older people with diabetes develop advance care directives

Monday, 14 May 2018

One person with diabetes dies every six seconds somewhere in the world. Diabetes is the leading cause of death in Australia and no wonder it is an Australian health priority.

Caring for people with diabetes becomes increasingly complex as they grow older and develop complications. Palliative care can improve comfort and quality of life, especially if it is implemented early. It can be used with usual diabetes care.

Starting palliative care does not mean the person is at the end of their life. However, palliative care is often delayed until near the end of life, so the benefits may not be achieved.

Many older people with diabetes have not documented their Medical Treatment Decision Maker, their values and preferences or their Advance Care Directive (ACD), which means families and clinicians may not know the individual’s preferences when they have to make care decisions in urgent stressful situations.

Professor Trisha Dunning (Chair in Nursing and Director Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research Barwon Health Partnership, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Deakin University), Sally Buchanan- Hagen and members of an older people with diabetes advisory group, developed and evaluated three pieces of information tailored for older people with diabetes, family carers and clinicians to help them recognise ‘the right time’ to begin discussing palliative and end of life care. The information was rigorously tested to ensure it meets readability and is evidence-based. Importantly, it was mapped to these key guidelines and standards.

Significantly, the Victorian Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act (2016) became law on 12 March 2018. The suite of information draws on and is consistent with that legislation. The information will help clinicians, older people with diabetes and families understand the Act, when and how to start discussing these issues with older people with diabetes and how to develop an ACD.

Public seminar

The suite of information will be officially launched by Associate Professor Charlie Corke during a seminar about palliative and end of life care for older people with diabetes on Thursday, June 28 from 4pm to 6pm in the Auditorium at Kitchener House, Education and Research Building (KHERB), Barwon Health.

Click here to read the flyer.

There is no charge to attend the seminar. The information will be available to attendees in either hard copy or USB format. The researchers hope the information will soon be published on the Australian Disease Management Association (ADMA) online clearing house.

For more information about the seminar and launch, or to request copies of the information following the launch, please contact either Professor Trisha Dunning: [email protected] or Susan Streat: [email protected].