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Latest from the BOPDHB CEO, Helen Mason

As many of you know, I am passionate about Advance Care Planning (ACP) and was lucky to be awarded a Harkness Fellowship in 2014 which allowed me to spend a year studying ACP in the US.


As many of you know, I am passionate about Advance Care Planning (ACP) and was lucky to be awarded a Harkness Fellowship in 2014 which allowed me to spend a year studying ACP in the US.

Since getting back home to the Bay, I’ve been speaking at a number of events about my research and my US experience. A few weeks ago, I was in Gisborne and spoke to the Hauora Tairāwhiti Board and staff about ACP.

What’s important in ACP is that it is something that needs to discussed by whole families and whanau and not be left too late in a person’s life.

In the Bay of Plenty we call it Future Care Planning. We want to encourage more people to find out what’s important to their family members when dealing with life and death, and have those ‘hard’ conversations that really count.

Hauora Tairawhiti CEO Jim Green recently told his staff of his own experiences. The first was last year when he had his own health issues.

“I know that we are all only a very short distance away from some major event happening that could impact dramatically on our lives. We don’t have to be morbid about it; just realistic. I know that being aware of what you would like to happen and conveying that to your family members in a systematic way will be beneficial for everyone. I was pretty much in control of what happened to me throughout all that experience but I do wonder what would have been different if I wasn’t? I would want my family to be supported in making decisions for me because they would be clear on what I want. Now is the time to be certain they have that clarity.”

Jim also spoke about the recent death of his sister-in-law. “She taught us all in our family the value of being prepared and making your wishes well known, in her case in writing as well as in conversations. At a time of much stress and sorrow it was calming to have Erin’s guidance for us, even though she was no longer able to deliver that for us personally. We all got the benefit of her thoughtfulness which was a feature of her life.”

While it’s difficult start these conversations, people who do, like Jim and his family, say they’re powerful conversations and often the most meaningful conversations they have with their loved ones.

I have an Advance Care Plan and I’ve had the important conversation with my 20 year old son Mungo. We had that hard conversation while lining up in a very long queue to go on the Space Mountain ride at Orlando Florida!

Many people will say it’s too early to have the conversation but the reality is, it is always too early - until it is too late.

I encourage you all to lead by example and start having these conversations with your loved ones yourselves.

There are great resources on the national Advance Care Planning website to support you.

Change Day – Opportunity for “Attitude”

I’m delighted that our DHB is taking part in Change Day on Wednesday 16 March. Even though I was away last year during Change Day, I heard about it and about some of the pledges that people had made. I was pleased that the DHB had taken up the challenge. I think Change Day gives us all an opportunity to demonstrate the second CARE value of “Attitude”. As a DHB we strive to have “will do” attitudes. Change Day gives each of us the opportunity to be proactive and make positive changes in the way we care for our communities - and in the way we work.

Each and every one of us plays an important role in the services we deliver to the people of the Bay of Plenty. Change Day provides us with an opportunity to think about what improvements each of us can make. It’s a chance to try a small test of change and I hope you’ll all take the opportunity to get involved.

My pledge for 2016 is:
“Once a month, I’ll shadow a team member from a different function, to better understand the contribution they make to the care our communities receive.”

"Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end."
Dr Atul Gawande, American surgeon, writer and public health researcher, from his book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

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