Advance care planning
Steps you should consider to give you more control over the care options when facing end of life illnesses.
What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a voluntary discussion process that takes place between you and your care providers and relevant health care professionals.
You can opt to do this on your own or, if you wish, you can involve your family and/or friends in this process. This enables your care team to record your wishes so all key people are aware of them, and to review them regularly with you.
ACP discussions may include any concerns you have about your care, your values and goals for care, your understanding about any illness or prognosis you may have, and your preferences for different types of care and/or treatment.
During the discussion, your health care professional will advise you on the options and services that are available to you.
The discussions are entirely 'patient-centered', and are conducted over a period of time and at a pace that is appropriate for you.
An extremely helpful guide, Planning For Your Future Care, has been produced by the National End Of Life Care Programme in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and the Dying Matters Coalition.
Benefits of Advance Care Planning
Advance Care Planning discussions give you the opportunity to discuss your end-of-life care with your family, friends and health care professionals.
It is a chance for you to speak about your values and wishes regarding your care and any concerns you may have.
An ACP discussion gives you the maximum choice and control over the end of your life. It means you can:
- ask your care team any questions you have;
- understand the options that may be available to you;
- gain advice on various types of care and treatment;
- ensure that the relevant members of your family and care team are aware of what you will want and need at the end of your life.
When to request Advance Care Planning
If possible have an ACP discussion in advance of an anticipated deterioration of their health, for example, on reaching the final stages of a terminal illness, or when your health is deteriorating due to old age.
The earlier you start to think about your advanced care, the more likely you are to be fully aware of the choices open to you, and to ensure your loved ones and carers know of your plans.
How to request an ACP discussion
Ask one of your care team or a GP and they will arrange for an appropriate professional, someone who knows your health record, to conduct your ACP discussion.
Preferred Priorities of Care (formerly Preferred Place of Care) form
The Preferred Priorities of Care (PPC) form is designed to help you think and discuss your preferences and priorities for care at the end of your life.
The PPC form enable you, your family and any health care professionals involved in your care to understand what you want when planning your care.
PPC forms are also useful if you later lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself; anyone involved in your care has to take account of what you have written in your PPC form.
However, the PPC form is not a legally binding document and preferences such as the refusal of treatment would need to be recorded in an Advance Decision in order for them to have statutory force.
Forms are provided by the NHS. Click here to go directly to the NHS's PPC form, which you can print out and fill in.
My Last Song has produced a Death Plan template to encourage terminally ill patients and those approaching the end of their lives to talk to their families and health professionals, and if appropriate, faith adviser, about how and where they want to die.
The plan includes where the person wants to die, who should be there, the level of medical intervention, what the person wants to hear, smell and see and who should be told of the imminent passing.