A lack of knowledge on Advance Care Planning (ACP) in the community.
What was the project?
The primary goal of the project was to raise awareness of ACP in the community. The brief was to deliver a short presentation about ACP to 60 local community groups across the north and west of Melbourne. A pre- and post-session evaluation to measure level of knowledge about ACP was to be implemented. It was also proposed that the project worker revisit the group after a short interval (three to four months) to collect feedback on the conversations and behaviour change around ACP that may have occurred as a consequence of the initial presentation.
We received $80,000 from North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) to deliver this project.
All organisations contributed in-kind through staff attendance at monthly steering committee meetings, project development work and logistical engagement with community groups. cohealth contributed further through recruitment and support of the project lead.
Did it work?
At the time of writing 26 ACP presentations had been completed and a total of 49 are booked.
440 people have attended the sessions. Attendance numbers at the presentations ranged from 2 to 45. Of these 153 (35 per cent) have completed an evaluation. Findings included the following:
75 per cent had not heard of ACP prior to the session
81 per cent had never had a health professional talk to them about ACP
To the question “I understand what ACP is” 26 per cent responded yes prior to the session and 86% responded yes after the session.
To the question “I understand how an Advance Care Plan may be used if I cannot make or communicate my wishes,” 29 per cent responded yes prior to the session and 86 per cent after.
What worked well?
Delivering the presentation to existing local community groups proved to be a useful model of disseminating information- participants are in a familiar environment, with people they know, with a familiar group facilitator.
Approaching groups aligned with partner organisations proved to be an effective way of gaining the “attention” of the group and securing bookings
Developing a steering committee with expertise in ACP allowed the Project Worker responsive and informed feedback, saving time in the development phase
Word of mouth or recommendation from local community group proved to be a useful method of referral. Keeping the presentation schedule flexible to such referrals was a key to the reach of the project.
When searching for existing local community groups across nine LGA’s there often was no one key point of contact for each LGA. This meant individually seeking a point of contact for many groups not aligned with Merri Health or cohealth. This was extremely time consuming. (Note: To date this project has contacted 74 eligible local community groups to book 49 presentations).
Typical logistical challenges for this type of work: travel, audio-visual malfunctions etc.
The original project proposal was too ambitious. It quickly became clear that in the space of 5-6 months of direct project work (with Christmas in the middle) that the aim of presenting to and then re-visiting 60 community groups was unrealistic. Subsequently it was decided we would re-visit four community groups.
The learnings to date suggest there is a need to increase awareness and knowledge of Advance Care Planning in this cohort of older people across the north and west of Melbourne.
While the reach of this project has been impressive, there remains a vast amount of the community who may remain in ignorance of ACP.
We believe it is advisable to roll this project methodology out to other organisations. Considering we have the learnings of this project regarding content, format, duration and promotion and with developmental work such as participant surveys completed, we think this would be a relatively straight forward practice.