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Anticipatory Care Planning and COVID-19

Anticipatory care planning involves talking to the people closest to you, and your care team (for example, your GP, nurse or consultant) about what kind of care and treatment you would want if you became unwell.

Discussions might include how or where you would like to be cared for, and who you would like to be involved in future decisions about your care. Your wishes and decisions can then be recorded in an Anticipatory Care Plan (ACP).

During a pandemic, medical decisions might need to be taken very quickly. It is therefore a good idea to have thought in advance about different situations which may arise. This is likely to result in better outcomes for you, reduce the pressure on the people who care about you, and make it easier for the healthcare professionals looking after you to provide you with the best care available.

Some issues to consider

Take some time now, whilst you are well, to learn more and to think about what you might want to happen in different scenarios. Here are some important questions to think about:

  • If you were to become seriously unwell due to an infection such as the coronavirus, how would you like to be cared for?
  • Is there anyone that you would like to be involved in future decisions about your care, if you were to become unwell (e.g. a friend, family member or carer)?
  • If you became seriously ill and thought you might die where would you want to be cared for?
  • Would you want to be admitted to hospital where more aggressive treatments are sometimes appropriate (e.g. being put on a ventilator)? Or would you prefer to be cared for at home where it is more likely you can be visited by close family members and be kept comfortable?
  • If your heart stops beating and there was a chance that it could be restarted with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, would you want a medical team to try this? This is maybe something you have never thought about – you can find out more about why it is important here.

You may not find it easy to give answers to these questions. Don’t worry - as you read more on this site or elsewhere your thoughts may become clearer. Keep a note of any questions which arise as you think about things so that you can discuss them with your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Treatments and interventions

Some specific treatments and interventions will not work for people who have complex underlying health problems, or when people are very frail or sick. There may also be some interventions and care options which you are not aware of, but which could greatly improve your quality of life.

Doctors will try to avoid giving you treatments if they believe they will not help you, especially if the treatment is also likely to make you uncomfortable or upset. In addition, the NHS is under great pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important that you discuss with a health professional what treatments might help you and what might be available.

Getting answers

You could also make a list of questions that you want to ask a healthcare professional, for example:

  • What treatments are likely to help me if I get seriously ill with Covid?
  • What are the pros and cons of going to hospital?
  • If I don’t go to hospital what care will I get at home?
  • What will happen if I get seriously ill at home?

These conversations will likely need to take place by phone during the coronavirus pandemic, as both family members and health and care professionals are reduce face-to-face contact in an effort to reduce the risk of infection.

Making a record

The results of these discussions can be recorded in an Anticipatory Care Plan.

You can ask your GP to ensure that important aspects of these discussions are shared on your ‘Key Information Summary’ so that other health professionals are aware of your wishes, should you need to contact them in an emergency.

Further resources

More information about Anticipatory Care Planning is available here: NHS Inform information on making a plan for your care during the COVID-19 pandemic

A short film about the importance of care planning conversations is available here: Film: Coronavirus and Care Planning Conversations

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

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