Project aims to help people plan for end of life digitally

17 Jul 2014

In what is claimed to be a world first, the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has begun piloting a scheme to allow people to plan for the end of their life online.

While no one likes talking about death, the reality is people still need to be prepared in terms of having their affairs in order and thinking of their loved ones.

Think Ahead urges people to ‘Think, Talk, Tell’ and record and review their personal preferences for future medical, financial and personal care.

The IHF is partnering with Patients Know Best, a patient-controlled, online medical records system, to pilot its Think Ahead initiative. Think Ahead will allow people to record, store and retrieve their end-of-life wishes and care preferences, including their medical records, behind a secure server.

The pilot of Think Ahead online is to be funded by Third Age, a voluntary community organisation that aims to promote the resources of older people.

Peace and comfort

“Think Ahead is a valuable guide for people planning their financial and legal affairs,” said Ms Justice Catherine McGuinness, chair of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland.

“It helps prevent shock, avoid confusion and gives control, choice and peace at the end.

“Not enough people have a pension or have made a will. Fewer still have taken the time to decide who they would like to be contacted in the event of an emergency, or how to make important decisions known to their loved ones.

“Our ambition is that every citizen in Ireland will use Think Ahead as an important planning tool.”

An Taoiseach launched Phase 1 of Think Ahead in 2011. Think Ahead 2 is a revised form that is slimmer and more accessible than the original. The biggest change is a section allowing users create an Advance Healthcare Directive, reflecting changes currently proposed in draft legislation.

Sharon Foley, CEO of the IHF, said everyone has the right to a say in their care at all times, including end of life.

“But we also have the responsibility to let other people know our decisions and this is where Think Ahead can help.”

Last will and testament image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years