Advance Care Planning is thinking about, talking about, and recording your choices, values, and preferences for your care at end of life. Discussing what you want with your loved ones, or with your GP or healthcare team, is an important part of advance care planning. It prepares you and others for a time when you may no longer be able to communicate those decisions.
We all value and prefer different things. So, it’s important to first reflect on your own values and preferences, and then to share those thoughts with your friends, family, and your healthcare team. When other people know what kind of treatment and care you want, you’re more likely to receive it. Advance care planning helps protect your choices, even if you are injured or ill and cannot express them.
To help you with some of these decisions, Think Ahead Planning Packs guide you step-by-step through many of your options. Then, Think Ahead provides you a place to record your preferences, your healthcare choices, and many more topics related to your end of life and after death care.
Each Think Ahead Planning Pack has three parts:
1. My Personal Wishes and Care Plan
A place to record all your information and preferences in case of serious illness, at end of life, and after death. This section is not legally binding but can help ensure that you are cared for in ways that meet your physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and personal desires.
For more information, start on our Personal Care page
2. My Advance Healthcare Directive
A place to record your requests and refusals of healthcare treatments, and to appoint someone to speak on your behalf. This section is legally binding when signed and witnessed properly.
What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?
An Advance Healthcare Directive is a legally-binding document that allows you to state what treatments you would refuse or request if you cannot express your choices at a later time—for example, if you are injured in an accident, or become very ill. An Advance Healthcare Directives also allows you to appoint someone you trust to be your [linkto: ‘Designated Healthcare Representative’]—to advocate for you and uphold your choices.
You must sign your Advance Healthcare Directive with two witnesses present, who also must sign. The Advance Healthcare Directive included in the Think Ahead Planning Pack clearly informs you who can be a witness and how to sign properly.
For more information on your Advance Healthcare Directive, see our Healthcare section.
3. My Medical Summary Form
A place to summarise the choices you made in your Personal Wishes & Care Plan and in your Advance Healthcare Directive, to share with your GP or Specialist team. Have a copy of this form placed in your medical file, for reference.
How do I start Advance Care Planning?
- Tell people you are starting your advance care planning when you are well. Talking it through now means everyone important to you is aware of your priorities and decisions. For ways to start these conversations, see our Start to Talk page.
- Remind them it’s important that you have a say in your preferences.
- Take it one day at a time. Tackling your feelings about end of life can feel overwhelming.