Advance Care Planning
Advance care planning involves giving individuals the opportunity to reflect and think about what would matter most to them if they became seriously unwell.
They are supported to consider their values and preferences regarding their future health care and then have a conversation with their loved ones. That way, if the person becomes unwell and unable to communicate, their wishes are already known which gives everyone peace of mind. While planning is for everyone, it is particularly important for people who have a chronic illness, who are over the age of 75, or who may be approaching the end of life.
There are two main aspects to advance care planning:
- Appointing a substitute decision-maker. This is a person who is nominated by the individual to communicate their wishes on their behalf if they become unable to communicate themselves. The substitute decision-maker can be anyone the person trusts, such as a carer, family member, or friend. They need to be over 18, and available and willing to communicate on the person’s behalf to health professionals even under difficult circumstances. The substitute decision maker should be someone that is available and preferably lives in the same city/region. A substitute decision maker can be legally appointed through a solicitor.
- Completing an Advance Care Directive. As mentioned advance care planning involves reflecting, conversation with loved ones, and appointing a substitute decision maker. Following that the person may like to write down their wishes, when they do- the document is called an Advance Care Directive. This document is considered an extension of the person’s wishes and will only be used if the person is unable to communicate. When validly made, an Advance Care Directive must be followed and no one can override it, including the medical team, family or substitute decision maker. An Advance Care Directive is considered a legal document, but it does not require the involvement of a solicitor. Its role is to guide the person’s loved ones and health care team so that they can provide care that is inline and respectful of the preferences and values of that person. Once written, the Advance Care Directive should be shared with the substitute decision-maker, GP, treating specialist and anyone else that is involved in the person’s care. It is also advised that a copy is uploaded to the person’s My Health Record.
Advance Care Planning enables people to be cared for where and how they would like to be. It also improves ongoing and end-of-life care. Families of people who have an advance care plan have less anxiety, depression, stress, and are more satisfied with care.
Different states and territories have different forms, terminology and laws on advance care planning. For more information please go to Advance Care Planning Australia.
You can also reach out to PanKind’s Support Navigator for more information and support on (02) 7207 6970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the clinicians, researchers, patients, and carers who have helped us create and review our website information and support resources, we could not have done it without you.