Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning is a recommended part of a person’s health care. When a person’s values and beliefs are discussed openly, their healthcare preferences can be respected at a time when they cannot voice their decisions. It is an ongoing process that needs cooperation between individuals, their families, care workers, and health professionals as well as community organisations and healthcare organisations.

If you were very unwell and unable to communicate your wishes to others, who would you want to speak for you? What would you want them to say?

Advance Care Planning involves talking with family, friends and loved ones about your future health care wishes and preferences and documenting these in an Advance Care Directive. Appointing a Medical Treatment Decision Maker is also recommended.

The Advance Care Directive will only take affect at a time when you do not have capacity to make medical treatment decisions that need to be made.

It is recommended that you take several steps to make sure your healthcare wishes are known. These include:

  • Think about your wishes for future care.
  • Have the conversation with those closest to you, your family and your doctor.
  • Consider appointing someone to be your medical treatment decision maker.
  • Write your wishes down to create an advance care directive.
  • Keep a copy and give a copy of your advance care directive to others like family, your doctor, your medical treatment decision maker, health service or the hospital you most regularly use and ask for it to be put in your medical record.
  • Review it regularly, update when necessary, or when anything changes.

If you do not have an Advance Care Directive you can start the conversation with your family and your health professional.

Here are some resources to help you get started;

Video: Advance Care Planning Australia – Advance care planning: Be open, be read, be heard

The Office of the Public Advocate – Take Control Booklet has links to forms and is a self-help guide to:

  • appointing a medical treatment decision maker
  • making an advance care directive
  • appointing an enduring power of attorney

The booklet is available on the Office of the Public Advocate website – Making an advance care directive

Further information:

Advance Care Planning Australia Care Planning Advisory Service

Call 1300 208 582

Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm (AEST).


Website links for further information:

Advance Care Planning Australia

Better Health Channel- Advance Care Plans

Dying to Talk

Office of the Public Advocate

The Department of Health and Human Services – Advance Care Planning