Advance Care Planning is not just about old age. At any age, a medical crisis could leave people too ill to make their own healthcare decisions.
Even if you are not sick now, a plan for the future is an important step toward ensuring you get the medical care you would want, even when doctors and family members are making the decisions for you.
WHAT IS AN ADVANCE CARE PLAN?
An AdvanceCare Plan (ACP) is a process for making and writing down future health care preferences.
ACP’s (also called Advance Directives) only come into effect if you become unwell and unable to make or communicate those preferences for yourself. Information in your ACP will guide your family and doctor when making medical treatment decisions on your behalf.
If a person has impaired decision-making capacity or ability to make their own ACP, it may be written on their behalf by their legally appointed Medical Enduring Power of Attorney or legal 'substitute decision-maker' (known as the 'Person Responsible' ). Record this legal relationship when making the ACP. People with impaired decision-making capacity should still take part in this planning as much as they are able.
There are three main steps in the ACP process:
A: Appoint an Agent
You can sign a legal form making it clear who you want to make medical decisions for you if you are too sick to do it yourself. This is a Medical Enduring Power of Attorney.
C: Chat and Communicate
Talk to your family, friends and doctors about your values, beliefs and health care preferences. Tell them about what is important for you. Also, talk to your doctors or other health professionals to find out more about what might be ahead.
P: Put in on Paper
If there is something you feel strongly about, you can write it down in an Advance Care Plan/Directive or in a letter describing your health care values and preferences for future medical treatments, including what type of medical treatment you would agree to and what you would not want.
Think about writing down your ACP or Directive if:
- you have firm preferences about future medical treatment
- you have no-one, or no-one suitable to appoint as a Medical Enduring Power of Attorney
- you have preferences for your health care that are different from what you think your family would want for you.
To find out more about Advance Care Planning, contact our project worker at Latrobe Regional Hospital on 5173 8495.
Interpreter Service: Please call 131 450 (free service).