GPs at forefront of advance care planning

Primary care is set to play a larger role in advance care planning with the imminent implementation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act in Western Australia from 1 July 2021.

A recent national study found 70% of Australians aged 65 and over are missing the opportunity to consider their end of life care, and of those who do have advance care planning documentation in place, about 30% is incomplete, invalid or non-legally binding.

WA Primary Health Alliance Aged Care Senior Policy Advisor, Lisa Ryan, says this is where the enduring and trusting relationship between a GP and their patient is invaluable.

“A great time for this conversation to happen can be as part of a Health Assessment for people aged 75 and over, but it can, of course, happen at any time.”

“Patients will readily confide in and take advice from their family doctor, so it is vital to provide GPs with the necessary information and tools to support their patients to achieve their end of life goals.”

For support with clinical decision making, GPs can refer to the Advance Care Planning Health Pathway and related pathways.

To encourage increased uptake of advance care planning across Western Australia, WA Health is undertaking consultation on the development of a standardised format for the Advance Health Directive, a legally binding document that specifies the care a person would like in the future, including decisions about resuscitation, mechanically assisted ventilation and assisted nutrition and hydration.

More information on advance care planning for health professionals is available from:

For more information on advance care planning for people, families and carers visit the WA Health website.