It’s National Advance Care Planning week, have you thought about your preferences?

Article published 22 March 2024

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Advance care planning involves making a plan for your future health care and letting others know what your preferences are

Currently, only around 15% of Australians have documented their preferences for care in an Advance Care Directive.

You can make decisions now about care that you would or would not like to receive in the case that a time comes where you are unable to communicate your preferences or make treatment decisions.

You can include preferences such as:

  • The person you would like to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
  • Information on things that are important to you, including cultural or religious beliefs and practices. You might also talk about your values and life goals, which can help others to make decisions for you if needed.
  • Treatment and care you would or would not want, and in what circumstances those preferences might apply.

If an Advance Care Directive is made and is valid, it must be followed. This means that healthcare professionals and family members cannot override the decisions you have documented.

As you can imagine, this has the potential to make things easier for those close to you if there are difficult decisions to be made. It also means that you can be certain your wishes will be respected if you are unable to speak for yourself.

It’s not a particularly fun topic, and it’s something that many of us might put off for later or prefer not to think about at all. If that’s the case, it might be a good idea to start with thinking about what your preferences are.

The rules for Advance Care Directives vary between states, so it’s important that you get specific advice. There may or may not be a specific form or process.

If you aren’t ready to make a formal directive, it might also be a good idea to speak about your preferences or write them down and let someone close to you know that you’ve done so.

If you do make a formal directive, you can revoke it at any time if you have the capacity to do so.

You can find more information here, or call the National Advance Care Planning Support Service on 1300 208 582 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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