Advance Care Planning is a process by which you reflect upon and document your personal values and preferences, to be used as a guide to your future health care in the event that you become unable to speak for yourself. It is about taking control of your health care wishes now and into the future.

Should you become seriously ill and not able to make or communicate your own decisions then your doctors and those you love will want to know your treatment preferences and your wishes into the future. If these preferences and wishes are documented in advance it will be of great help to everyone involved and avoid disagreements. Dying with Dignity NSW recommends that you write a plan while you are well, or in the early stage of dementia.

The most important steps in the process of advance care planning are:

  • discussing your health care wishes with your family, close friends and your doctor.
  • thinking about what treatments you would want to have, and which you would refuse.
  • writing down your wishes in an “Advance Care Directive”
  • choosing a trusted person to be your “Enduring Guardian”. This is a person, or persons, who knows you and your wishes and whom you would trust to make decisions about your medical care if you are not able to.

An advance care plan normally results in two completed and signed documents:

  • An Advance Care Directive in which you clearly state your wishes in relation to your medical treatment.
  • An Appointment of Enduring Guardianship.

These documents will remain in force until they are required, if ever, or until you write a new advance care plan if your health or circumstances change.