A German GP who works with palliative patients has visited the Bay of Plenty to learn about the local approach to future care planning.
Dusseldorf resident Dr Kornelia Hoppi Götze spent two weeks travelling New Zealand learning about, and undergoing, future care planning training.
Dr Kornelia Hoppi Götze. Supplied Photo.
“Fifty per cent of my time in Germany is doing palliative care work,” explains Kornelia.
“Driving out to the patients and seeing them in the last weeks of their life involves future care planning, talking through people’s wishes in their last days.
“I wanted to see the New Zealand approach to future care planning, find out how the training works, and to understand the differences to Germany.”
Palliative care is different to hospice care in that care teams are made up of doctors, nurses, and other professional medical caregivers, often at the facility where a patient will first receive treatment. These individuals will administer or oversee most of the ongoing comfort-care patients receive.
While palliative care can be administered in the home, it is most common to receive palliative care in an institution such as a hospital, extended care facility, or nursing home that is associated with a palliative care team.
There are no time restrictions on palliative care. Palliative care can be received by patients at any time, at any stage of illness whether it be terminal or not.
Whilst in Tauranga Dr Götze undertook the Advance Care Planning Level 2 Practitioner course. The communication skills course hosted by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board helps health professionals have those often challenging conversations with patients who are planning their future healthcare needs.
“It was fantastic for changing old ways of interacting with patients and relatives,” says Kornelia. “It was role-playing training, being able to pick up cues patients give all the time; to respond to those in a way which helps patients to open up and talk about difficult subjects.
“The focus here is much more about getting the conversation started, it is something we need to focus more on in Germany. I want to marry the very structured German way with the more open way I learnt here. I see it more as a marriage of two sides of the same coin.
“The training in Tauranga was very valuable for me and I would love to stay in touch with everyone I met there.”
BOPDHB Health of Older People Portfolio Manager Anna Thurnell says a Future Care Plan is an important document for people at any stage of their lives.
“Future care planning gives everyone a chance to say what’s important to them,” says Anna.
“It helps people understand what the future might hold and to say what treatment they would and would not want. It helps people, their families and their healthcare teams plan for future and end of life care.
“This makes it much easier for families and healthcare providers to know what the person would want - particularly if they can no longer speak for themselves.”
Hard copies of Future Care Plans are also available for free at the receptions of both Tauranga and Whakatāne Hospitals.