Background: End-of-life-care is often poor in individuals with dementia. Advanced care planning (ACP) has the potential to improve end-of-life care in dementia. Commonly ACP is completed in the last six months of life but in dementia there may be problems with this as decision-making capacity and ability to communicate necessarily decrease as the disease progresses. Choosing the right time to discuss ACP with people with dementia may be challenging given the duration of the illness may be up to nine years.
Aims: To explore the acceptability of discussing ACP with people with memory problems and mild dementia shortly after diagnosis.
Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 patients and eight carers who had participated in ACP discussions and six staff members from a memory clinic and a community mental health team who had either conducted or attended the discussions for training purposes.
Results: Patients and carers found ACP a positive intervention that helped them think about the future, enabled people with dementia to make their wishes known, and resulted in their feeling relieved and less worried about the future. The importance of sharing the ACP documentation between health service providers was highlighted.
Conclusions: This qualitative evaluation of ACP in early dementia has encouragingly positive results which support the wider application of the intervention in memory services and community mental health teams. Strategies are suggested to support the implementation of ACP further in clinical practice.