Research focus

Uptake of a newly implemented advance care planning program in a dementia diagnostic service

Through a three-stage project in a specialist memory clinic in Australia, researchers introduced ACP to clients with mild cognitive impairment or recently diagnosed dementia and their families. Clients and carers were initially posted a survey assessing completed documentation for future care, understanding of the principles of ACP and willingness to receive further information. Those wanting more information were invited to a seminar introducing the ACP programme and service. Participants wanting to complete ACP documentation could make an appointment with the ACP clinicians.

The researchers found that, despite initial interest, ACP completion was low. They suggest this was possibly because clients and carers felt their current planning was sufficient or possibly because they were still contemplating plans and thus unready to document them. The short timeframe of study was deemed a likely reason for the low follow up in that participants did not have time to understand the principles and practical aspects of ACP to complete the documentation. The authors recommend introducing ACP to people over time to allow for full explanation, full consideration and ongoing discussion.