Advance care planning is the process of planning for future health and personal care needs. It provides a way for a person to make their values and preferences known so that they can guide decision-making at a future time when they cannot make or communicate their decisions.
Engaging in advance care planning helps people to determine their healthcare priorities, and thereby to align their health and care preferences with the actual care they receive.
Advance care planning is not a single event but an ongoing process, which should be revisited regularly. This is especially important when a person’s health or social situation changes.
Key components of advance care planning are:
- having a conversation about the person’s values, beliefs and goals and how these influence preferences for care – this may include specific care and treatment preferences
- selecting and appointing a substitute decision-maker
- documenting a person’s preferences in an Advance Care Directive or Advance Care Plan
- regularly reviewing and updating the plan or directive.