Advance Care Planning generally happens if someone has a serious illness, but you can plan ahead for your future treatment and care at any time in your life.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness then someone involved in your care, such as such as your doctor or nurse, might start a conversation with you about Advance Care Planning. However, you don’t have to wait for someone else to talk to you about your wishes; you can ask them about it at any time.
Advance Care Planning is a voluntary process, so you don’t have to take any steps to plan in advance unless you wish to do so. However, talking about and recording your wishes in advance will mean that they are more likely to be known by others and followed if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
There’s no set way to plan in advance, but there are several things you can do to ensure people know how you’d like to be cared for. These include:
- Discuss what you want with those close to you and your healthcare team. You can use this discussion to explain your wishes and preferences for care. If you want to, you can also talk about what you’d like to happen after your death, for example, if you’d like to donate your organs. It’s a good idea to make a note of these wishes and let other relevant people know.
- Explore your options about where you would want to be cared for, such as at home or in a hospice.
- Refuse specific treatment(s) in an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (Living Will) in case you become unable to make decisions for yourself in the future.
- Write down your wishes, preferences, feelings and beliefs in an Advance Statement. This allows you to document anything that’s important to you in relation to your future treatment and care.
- Appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, which is when you give someone the legal power to make decisions about your care in case you later become unable to make decisions for yourself.
- Complete an Advance Care Plan.