Research conducted in the Centre for Health and Society at Aston University has been used to inform the design of a new website to support people in advance care planning.
The Planning Ahead website, launched on 10 December, is supported and hosted by Hospice UK, the national charity working for those experiencing dying, death and bereavement.
Dr Alexis Paton, a lecturer in social epidemiology and the sociology of health, whose research focuses on how sociology and medical ethics can improve healthcare services, spent 18 months working with stakeholders on the research used to develop this resource.
To support the launch of the website, end of life care consultant and best-selling writer Dr Kathryn Mannix has written about the planning tool to explain why individuals might find it helpful.
Alexis Paton, co-director of the Centre for Health and Society at Aston University, said:
"Everyone has the right to make choices about how they want to live, based on what matters most to us. We are each unique, with different ideas about what matters most to us, and so we make different choices in our lives. This is no different when it comes to healthcare. When faced with an illness and decisions to make about that illness, we all make different choices about how we would like to be treated.
"It is not always possible to make these important healthcare decisions when we are ill, and so this website is about thinking ahead about some of those choices and what we would want to happen in the future. Doing so allows us to consider what matters most to us, and writing them down helps us ensure our decisions are honored when we are ill—especially when we are not able to make decisions ourselves.
"Advance planning is for everyone—all ages, all states of health. We hope this website helps encourage more conversations with those we love about our wishes and choices for our future health.
"The website is a 'work in progress', as we can always learn more about how to support people making healthcare decisions. Patients, professionals and the public are encouraged to take a look and offer feedback to the development group via an embedded link to Aston University's Centre for Health and Society."
You can find out more about the work of the Centre for Health and Society on its website.