Step 1: Think about your values

Step 1: Think about your values

Be open: what's important to you?

We are all individuals with personal goals, beliefs and values. And we all have specific views and attitudes about illness and medical treatment.

Being ill affects people in many different ways. Illness can cause physical and emotional symptoms including pain, discomfort, distress and disability. Sometimes it can stop you from living your normal life and doing what you enjoy.

Clarify your own point of view by thinking about what is most important to you and what goals you have in life. For example, do you want to spend more time at home with your family and carers? Do you want to travel? What do you enjoy doing most every day? Where would you prefer to be cared for?

Advance care planning involves thinking about the sort of treatment that you would want to have now and in the future. So, next, think about what medical care you might want. Consider what you expect from medical treatment and other care, and what you hope it achieves. Learn about the different life-prolonging treatments and think about situations when you would and would not want them. Learn about the care options you have.

As you start thinking about your current and future health, it's worth reflecting on your experiences with healthcare. Here are some questions for you to think about:

  • Has anyone close to you died? Do you think their death was a 'good' death? Why?
  • Are there things about their death you think could have been done better?
  • Are there medical treatments you have experienced or you have seen others experience that influence your views?
  • Do you have questions regarding past treatments that you wish to ask your doctor?

Before you can make informed decisions about your medical care, you need to understand:

  • your own views and attitudes about illness, medical treatments and where you would want to be cared for
  • your illness or injury (if you have one) and how it might affect you
  • the effects of any treatment you might have.
I think advance care plans have encouraged doctors to accept patients' decisions far more readily than they used to.

Go ahead and gather information from your doctors, family and carers and other people who might be able to assist you such as spiritual advisers, therapists or support groups. You can also learn more about various treatments by exploring our resources

Once you know what is important to you and what you expect from medical care, you need to discuss these values and preferences with the people around you. That's the next step.

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