Helping older people plan in advance what medical treatment they do or don’t want to receive in the event that they can’t speak for themselves is the focus of a series of workshops during Seniors Week, starting on April 7.

The workshops will be held during Seniors Week in Ballina, Brunswick Heads, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.

The Advance Care Planning workshop is being run by the Aged Services Learning and Research Collaboration (ASLaRC), a partnership between Southern Cross University and the University of NSW.

Professor Colleen Cartwright, director of ASLaRC, said planning for health care at the end of life was just like taking out an insurance policy.

“Who will speak for those who can’t speak for themselves? People still become confused about who is authorised to make those decisions and many people are unaware that it’s not necessarily their next of kin,” Professor Cartwright said.

At the workshop she will be explaining the documents that are available to help people make sure that their wishes in regard to their medical treatment are known and respected.

“A lot of people are fearful about the end stage of their lives, but this is like an insurance policy. When people do complete an Advance Health Care Directive it is often a big relief as it is a legally binding document,” Professor Cartwright said.

“It also takes a lot of pressure off family members and carers, as well as taking the burden of decision-making away from health care providers, such as doctors and nurses.”

Professor Cartwright said the Advance Health Care Directive gave people the opportunity to say at what point treatment should stop in the event of a life-threatening illness or injury.

For example, it gives people the choice to say that if they have a terminal illness and their heart stops that they do not want to be revived, or that they do not want to be put on a permanent ventilator.

“We always encourage people to talk to their families and if they are admitted to hospital to take the document with them,” she said.

“A lot of younger people are also making these decisions. Anyone can lose the capacity to talk for themselves, through injury or illness, and it’s important that family members aren’t left to make such important decisions.”

There is no charge for the seminars but bookings are essential to Leanne Carpenter on 66593197 or email


  • Monday, April 7: 50’s Plus Expo, Ballina RSL Auditorium
  • Tuesday, April 8: Ocean Shores Country Club, Ocean Shores and Banora Point Community Centre.
  • Wednesday, April 9: Lismore.
  • Thursday, April 10: Ballina.
  • Friday. April 11, Coffs Harbour Ex-Services.