COVID-19 Planning for individuals

COVID-19 healthcare planning for individuals, families and loved ones

Advance care planning is an important part of routine health care. However in these uncertain times, advance care planning is now more important than ever as many Australians face the prospect of suddenly becoming unwell, due to coronavirus.

Older Australians are most at risk of serious illness and coronavirus infection, in particular those with existing conditions such as lung and heart disease, cancer and diabetes. People should be reducing their risk by adhering to government recommendations. This situation may result in changes to a person’s future health care preferences.

ACPA recommends:

  1. start a conversation with loved ones – be clear about what you would want or not want
  2. identify who should make your medical decisions if you become suddenly unwell
  3. speak with your GP (consider a telehealth consultation) about advance care planning and your preferences, particularly if you are wanting less treatment
  4. write down your preferences in an Advance Care Directive or in a letter.*

*COVID-19 restrictions create difficulties in getting Advance Care Directives signed by the appropriate people and your doctor. Advance Care Directives can be completed with and signed by your doctor if you have email or fax available. Alternatively, all states and territories (excluding Queensland) recognise common law Advance Care Directives. A common law Advance Care Directive can be created by using a recommended form or creating a letter, and should include your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • preferences for care
  • acceptable or unacceptable outcomes (e.g. CPR, ventilation, loss of independence)
  • substitute decision-maker
  • signature and date.

Further national advance care planning advice is available via the National Advisory Service. Free call 1300 208 582, 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday (AEST).

COVID-19 Conversation starters

Useful prompts for conversations with loved ones about advance care planning

  • The COVID-19 situation has made me think about what health care I would want if I got really sick, can we talk about this?
  • It's important to me that I can make choices about my future health care. Can I tell you about my preferences and what I want and don't want?
  • I have just updated my Will and it has made me think about my future health care. Can I tell you about my preferences and what I want and don't want?
  • Now that I have been diagnosed with this condition, I would want to make sure that we know each other's preferences for care. Can we talk about this?
  • Can we talk about your health and the COVID-19 situation? I want to know more about what's important to you.
  • If you became sick and I had to make medical treatment decision for you, what would you want me to say or do?
  • Would you be willing to be my substitute decision-maker, if I can't make my own medical treatment decisions?
  • There may come a time where you become too sick to make your own medical treatment decisions. It would be a good idea to be prepared and to choose the person you would like to be your substitute decision-maker.
  • The news reports about people getting COVID is pretty scary. I want to talk to you about what I would want to happen if I got sick.
Booklets and guides

Advance care planning companion guide

Getting Started Guide - family


Getting started

This booklet is designed to support you in the process of developing an Advance Care Directive.

Download PDF (2.6 MB)