From January to March this year, a team of four final-year Communication Studies undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) embarked on a campaign to raise awareness about Advance Care Planning (ACP).
The campaign, titled Let’s Talk Care, urged Singaporeans to reflect on their future health and personal care preferences and share them with their loved ones. This process, otherwise known as ACP, is important to facilitate better care outcomes and reduce the stress of decision-making on family members in the event that the individual loses the mental capacity to make his or her own decisions in the future.
The four students conducted a survey last October among Singaporeans aged 50 to 64 to gather insights for their campaign. Of the 201 respondents surveyed, 61.2% have not heard about ACP. Although 77.6% acknowledged that ACP is important and beneficial when told about what ACP briefly entailed, 67.7% did not see the urgency to do their ACP soon.
As of October 2018, official figures provided by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) show that over 14,000 ACPs have been conducted since the programme’s inception in 2011. The team of NTU undergraduates hopes to increase this number after reaching out to more than 750 people at their outreach events.
The team set up roving booths at various healthcare and community settings such as Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Bishan Public Library to educate the public about ACP and clarify common misconceptions, while explaining the differences between ACP and other life planning tools such as the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
“I witnessed the stress my cousin had to go through in deciding what sort of care his father would want after suffering a stroke. That inspired my team to embark on Let’s Talk Care,” said Haikal Latiff, 28, one of the four members in the team.
The team also produced a reflection workbook to get people to start on ACP. The workbook consists of 9 questions which allow individuals to sort their care wishes based on different levels of importance. People can initiate their care conversation with their loved ones using a postcard provided at the end of the workbook.
“ACP is a process involving different steps. We understand that the end goal of sharing one’s future care preferences may not be an easy topic to broach. Hence, we aim to get people started on the first step of doing their ACP, which is to reflect on what sort of care preferences they have using our workbooks,” said Esther Chew, 23, team member of Let’s Talk Care.
An online copy of the workbook is available for download at www.letstalkcare.sg/reflect-acp.
Let’s Talk Care is supported by the ACP National Office at AIC as well as healthcare institutions like Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). More information about the campaign can be found at www.letstalkcare.sg.