Understanding advance care planning

Be open | Be ready | Be heard

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. 

Advance care planning is particularly important for people who are older and are frail, or people who have a chronic illness, multiple diseases, an early cognitive impairment, or are approaching their end of life.

Advance care planning involves:

  • appointing a substitute decision-maker
  • completing an Advance Care Directive.

A person doesn't have to be ill to start advance care planning. Healthy people are encouraged to think about their health and care preferences and discuss them with their family, friends, carer and/or healthcare team.


What are the benefits of advance care planning?

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
References
1. Detering, KM, Hancock, AD, Reade, MC, Silvester, W 2010, ‘The impact of advance care planning on end of life care in elderly patients: randomised controlled trial’, British Medical Journal, 340: c1345.doi:10.1136.
2. Brinkman-Stoppelenburg A, Rietjens JA, van der Heide A. The effects of advance care planning on end-of-life care: a systematic review. Palliat Med 2014; 28: 1000–1025.


Fact sheets

Advance care planning fact sheets for family, friends and carers

  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for individuals and family

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for individuals and their families.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for substitute decision-makers

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for substitute decision-makers.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning and dementia - for substitute decision-makers

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    This fact sheet about advance care planning and dementia outlines the role and considerations of a substitute decision-maker and the decisions they make for someone on their behalf.