Step 4: Encourage a written plan

Step 4: Encourage a written plan

Be heard: put it on paper. Writing down a plan gives everyone some peace of mind.

Although an advance care plan can simply be a conversation, a written plan provides everyone with a definitive record of a person's wishes. A person can create their own advance care plan or use a form relevant to their state or territory. The document is also sometimes called an Advance Care Directive.

Writing down preferences down is important because:

  • doctors might not have time to contact the substitute decision-maker if a decision needs to be made urgently and the substitute decision-maker is not immediately available
  • they provide guidance or instructions to the substitute decision-maker and to the doctors about the sort of medical treatments that the person would or would not want
  • they may remind and support the substitute decision-maker when they need to make decisions about the person's treatment.

The person may also want to tell their substitute decision-maker how closely they their wishes followed. For example, do you want them to follow your wishes exactly as the person has written and discussed them? Or would they prefer the substitute decision-maker to take the person's wishes into account but to also use their own judgement in coming to a decision?

It's important to involve the person's substitute decision-maker and doctor when they're writing a plan, so that they're aware of and can discuss the person's preferences.

Once a person has finished writing their advance care plan, they should make copies and give them to their substitute decision-maker and doctor. Additional copies can be stored:

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