Advance Care Planning Courses A Success

24 Jul 2013

More Advance Care Planning training will be held late in 2013, following on from the success of two courses in Dunedin and Christchurch.  Advance care planning (ACP) is a process of discussion between a person, their families/whanau and their health care professionals to help plan for their future health care needs.

The training is aimed at preparing health professionals from a range of healthcare settings to be able to initiate and facilitate conversations with patients and their families about end of life care.

Attendees at the recent Christchurch and Dunedin Advance Care Planning Courses were enthusiastic about the training and applying it to their day-to-day work.

Cardiac Registered Nurse Julie Chirnside said the course made her realise where she had been missing cues from patients to discuss what was important to them.  “The training helped me identify how I can better listen and communicate with patients, and noticing the prompts to discuss what is concerning them.  Often what we are focused on as health professionals is what we are doing for the patient right now, but they are thinking about what the future holds and we need to be able to support them to consider what they want from end of life care.”

Oncology Registered Nurse Fleur Hill said what ACP training focused on was at the heart of quality healthcare. “By really focusing on mutual communication and listening to the patients, we can hear what a person truly wants and ensure their wishes are honoured.  Although it is as simple figuring out how each of us can communicate better, it means we can provide more empathetic, holistic care.”

Training involves a half day session outlining ACP and covering legal and technical aspects.  This is followed by two days looking at communication with patients, practising to initiate difficult discussions with patients through role playing with actors, and then identifying how to overcome challenges in communicating.

Participants in the courses said the role-playing was key to the training.  Ms Chirnside said “I did not know what to expect from the role playing, but the actors were very good.  It was incredibly lifelike and helped identify what communication barriers I needed to overcome and how to handle challenging conversations.”

The five South Island DHBs are committed to working together through the South Island Alliance on initiatives that will benefit our health services.  The Alliance’s Health of Older People group have facilitated the ACP training as it is a critical component of improving end of life care for people in our communities. A further six South Island Level 2 ACP courses are planned to be held during towards the end of 2013 and early 2014, to bring the opportunity to upskill in ACP to more health professionals working in the region.

For further information regarding ACP training please contact Kate Rawlings; or visit

Published on: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, under Older people health