Who needs to know your future health-care wishes? Advance Care Planning helps you prepare for future health care should something unexpected happen to you. You plan for large purchases, vacations, weddings, and other life events. Why wouldn’t you plan for your care?
What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a way for you and your family to prepare to make decisions about your future health care.
It involves understanding and sharing your values, beliefs and wishes regarding health and personal care with those close to you and your health-care provider. It also involves determining who would make health-care decisions for you if you cannot.
This information is used during conversations with health-care providers about the treatments and care you receive, to help you get the care that’s right for you.
Why do Advance Care Planning?
If you were unwell and unable to communicate, who would you want to speak for you?
What health-care decisions would you want them to make for you?
Serious illness or injury could mean you are unable to make decisions about your health-care treatments. This can happen to people of all ages, at any time, and especially towards the end of your life.
Advance Care Planning can help you:
- explore your values, beliefs and wishes;
- understand who can make decisions for you (your Substitute Decision Maker);
- prepare you to make difficult health-care decisions;
- get the care that is right for you.
Advance Care Planning can help your Substitute Decision Maker:
- know what you want and
- make the right health-care decisions for you, if needed.
Advance Care Planning can help others who care for you:
- support your decisions
- by reducing their worry and anxiety.
Who should do Advance Care Planning?
All adults able to communicate their wishes and capable of making decisions should do Advance Care Planning, especially people who:
- have serious illness;
- believe their family may have different views or beliefs to their own;
- have a condition, such as dementia, that will lead to a loss of capacity to make decisions.
When to do Advance Care Planning?
You can do Advance Care Planning at any stage of your life. It’s never too early until it’s too late – the sooner you start, the better.
Advance Care Planning is not a one-time thing, it is a process you should review from time to time, especially if your health or life status changes.
Walter talks about his experience with Advance Care Planning and how it helped his family members know about his wishes and values:
Steps of Advance Care Planning
Simple ways to start:
What matters most to you?
Discuss your thoughts with:
- those closest to you; and
- your health-care providers.
Record your wishes
Share your plan with:
- those closest to you; and
- your health-care providers
Review whenever there is a change in you health, personal life or living situation
- advance care planning is not a one-time event
- it is important to revisit your plan and make adjustments that reflect your values and wishes
- as long as you are able to understand and communicate, you will be able to make your own health-care decisions
- you can change your advance care plan at any time
For more information, please visit our Advance Care Planning resources page.
To find Advance Care Planning events or activities in your local area, please visit our public events page.