The GPs at Royal Park Medical have considerable experience in providing care for older age groups. We believe that continuity of care is important, and that the GP should be at the centre of the team. We want to be the first point of contact, and to help coordinate other aspects of your care.
One of the most important aspects is planning for future care needs. Here we will describe some of the planning processes that we can assist with.
GP MANAGEMENT PLANS
All those with a ‘chronic disease’ are eligible to have a written GP management plan. This can be arranged at a longer appointment with your doctor, and these planning visits can usually be bulk billed to Medicare. A comprehensive plan helps you and your GP stay on top of the complexity of your condition. It may also allow you to access Medicare rebates from allied health providers.
WILLS AND ENDURING POWERS OF ATTORNEY
It is never too early to prepare your Will. We encourage our patients to consider this when they are healthy, and to have open discussions about it with family and carers.
We also encourage every person to enact an Enduring Power of Attorney. This legal document will allow someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, if you later lose the capacity to make decisions yourself. Attorneys can be appointed to make financial decisions or medical decisions or both. It is particularly critical when someone becomes disabled due to dementia for trusted family members or carers to be able to make decisions on their behalf. The only other option is to apply to VCAT for a guardian to be appointed, and this is a lengthy and onerous process that may not bring about the result you would have wanted. More information is available here:
For both of these documents, you must have the ability to understand what you are signing. If you have cognitive impairment or dementia, you will need to be assessed for whether you still have the capacity to sign legal documents. Your GP at Royal Park Medical would be happy to begin that assessment. In the early stages of dementia, many people have sufficient capacity, so don’t assume that it is too late. If necessary, our doctors may be able to provide a statement about your testatmentary capacity, refer you to a specialist who can make a detailed assessment, or witness the signing of your legal documents.
ADVANCED CARE PLANS
Our GPs are happy to discuss your preferences about your future care needs. We believe you are the best person to decide what should happen towards the end of your life. Every person has different ideas about what treatments they would or would not like to be undertaken. If you become suddenly unwell or lose your cognitive function, then you may not be able to tell your treating doctors your preferences. A good way to plan for this scenario is to write an Advanced Care Plan. Your GP is an important person to discuss this with, as we might be an advocate for you when the time comes. We can help you fill in a statement of your choices. We will strive to honour your wishes and preferences, but in order to do so we need to have a good discussion about them when you are still well.
More information can be found here
https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/hospitals-and-health-services/patient-care/end-of-life-care/advance-care-planning/acp-overview. It is also very important to discuss your preferences with your closest relatives, and those who care for you, even though it is a difficult conversation to start.
For some, who may be frail or have a life-limiting disease, their choice may be not to have any further life-prolonging treatment. This is something the GPs at Royal Park Medical are comfortable discussing with you, and we will do our very best to support your wishes. Your autonomy and dignity is of great importance to us.
VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING
The Victorian parliament has recently passed legislation permitting those with a terminal condition access to voluntary assisted dying. It will come into effect in mid 2019. It is too early to know details of how the scheme will work in practice, and too early to tell where and how this might be accessed. At Royal Park Medical we will follow developments closely. Please do discuss this matter with your doctor if you feel it affects you.
“MY AGED CARE”
Access to services such as home help, respite care or residential care is now through the MyAgedCare system. Individuals or carers can access MyAgedCare online here https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/getting-started or by telephone on 1800 200 422. Your GP can also start this process, so please discuss your needs with your doctor.
“MY HEALTH RECORD”
My Health Record is a secure online summary of your health information. The Government is encouraging all Australians to sign up for My Health Record. If you agree, our GPs can upload a summary of your health information to your online record. You can register for your record online here https://myhealthrecord.gov.au/internet/mhr/publishing.nsf/Content/before_you_register, or via MyGov, or contact the helpline phone on 1800 723 471. Alternatively our staff can help you register when you visit in a few simple steps.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professional. The authors have made considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. Royal Park Medical accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen.