Talking about choices
If a person was unwell and not able to communicate their preferences to others, how could we know what they'd want? Who would speak for them?
Advance care planning ensures that the person you are caring for, their family, friends and/or carer know what the person's health and care choices really are. That can give everyone some peace of mind.
Ideally, an advance care plan should be a written, but it can also just be a conversation.
A person doesn't have to be ill to make a plan. Healthy people are encouraged to think about their health and care preferences and discuss them with their family, friends, carer and/or healthcare team.
The process is simple: a person thinks about their values, then discusses them with their family, carers, doctors, and nurses or care staff. A person can choose someone to make decisions for them if they were ever unable to do so themselves. That person is called as a 'substitute decision-maker' and they speak for the very ill person. The plan should ideally be documented, reviewed and when the time comes, activated.
An advance care plan only goes into effect if a person is unable make decisions for themselves. When that times comes, the advance care plan guides everyone to make decisions that respect the person's values and preferences.
Advance care planning benefits everyone: the person, their family, carers, health professionals and associated organisations.
- It helps to ensure people receive the care they actually want.
- It improves ongoing and end-of-life care, along with personal and family satisfaction.1
- Families of people who have an advance care plan have less anxiety, depression, stress and are more satisfied with care.1
- For healthcare professionals and organisations, it reduces unnecessary transfers to acute care and unwanted treatment.2