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Advance care planning

What is advance care planning?

Advance Care Planning (ACP) involves a patient thinking about and communicating to others how they would like to be treated in the future if they have a condition where they can no longer speak for themselves. This may happen, for example, as a result of stroke, progressive dementia, or becoming unconscious from some form of accident or illness.

An Advance Care Directive (ACD) is a component of an Advance Care Plan and contains information relevant to specific areas of healthcare and the values and wishes of an individual which would be expected to impact on treatment options. Numerous directives have been developed by a variety of organisations to meet the needs of our diverse population. Indeed, any written and recorded statement of wishes is legally binding. Endorsement by a medical practitioner is recommended but not essential.

Why is advance care planning important?

Undertaking ACP means that future decisions about a person’s care are more likely to reflect their wishes. ACP identifies sensitive issues and clarifies the actions an individual would prefer in certain medical situations should they occur in the future. For many reasons these topics of discussion between family, carers and GPs are often avoided.

Having an ACP means other people will not have to make decisions on a person’s behalf without an appreciation of that person’s feelings or wishes. It also reduces the likelihood of confusion and conflict regarding decisions of care between all parties involved. With an ACP in place a person can feel comfortable and reassured that there will be a common and calm approach to their care toward end-of-life.


Advance Care Directive template

Useful links that may assist decision making and planning