Do you know what ACP is? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. For our latest report, we put this same question to a group of Barnet residents and discovered that most people had never heard the term. In fact, ACP stands for Advance Care Planning, and it is one of the most important things you’ll discuss with your GP.
Advance Care Planning conversations are held between patients - of any age - who may have significant health issues, and their family and healthcare professionals. They’re to find out about people’s future wishes and their care priorities. Once ACP had been explained to them, we found people could immediately appreciate the benefits. As one of the members of our focus groups said, ‘There are a lot of benefits, not just getting what you want, but making life easier for your family, so they’re not having to guess.’
So what is stopping people having these important conversations? We discovered there were a number of reasons for it. Timing is important, it emerged, there’s definitely a ‘Goldilocks zone’ when it’s not too early and not too late. There are the cultural or religious taboos that make us unwilling to talk about the end of our lives.
The aim of this project was to work out what needs to be done to ensure that ACP conversations occur more easily. Thanks to the people who helped with this, including Healthwatch Barnet Volunteer Interviewer Janice Tausig, and the GPs in the Barnet Primary Care Training Hub who led this project, Dr Natalie Zhang of Oak Lodge Medical Centre, Dr Lorreta Chindo of East Barnet Health Centre, and Dr Elizabeth Goodwin of Brunswick Park Medical Centre.