Advance care planning is a process of planning for future health and personal care whereby a person's values, beliefs and preferences are identified so they can guide decision-making at a future time when the person is unable to communicate their decisions.1
An advance care planning discussion will often result in an advance care plan. Advance care plans state preferences about health and personal care and preferred health outcomes. Decisions may be made on the person’s behalf, but a person’s wishes should be used to guide the decisions.
Advance Care Directives are one way of formally recording an advance care plan. An Advance Care Directive is a type of written advance care plan recognised by common law or authorised by legislation that is completed and signed by a competent adult. An Advance Care Directive can record the person’s preferences for future care and appoint a substitute decision-maker. A substitute decision-maker is a person identified by law as able to make substitute decisions on behalf of someone who does not have capacity to make decisions. There can be more than one substitute decision-maker appointed.
Advance care planning and advance care directives are governed by state and territory legislation. The Advance Care Planning Australia website has information for each state or territory.
Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) has video resources, webinars, and support materials available that may assist in starting an advance care planning conversation. ACPA also has resources that can be downloaded and printed:
The ACPA’s National Advance Care Planning Support ServiceTM on 1300 208 582 is available to both healthcare workers and the community. The phone service operates 9am - 5pm (AEST) Monday to Friday, or find further information about contacting ACPA.
Watch the ELDAC Home Care Toolkit educational video on Recognise End of Life, which also discusses advance care planning.
Dementia Australia developed Start2Talk. This a comprehensive resource can assist Australians to start the conversations and to become involved in planning ahead for the future in case they have a sudden accident, become very ill, or develop a condition such as dementia that affects memory and the ability to plan. Planning ahead can include issues related to finances, lifestyle or healthcare. It gives information needed to make decisions and to put them into action.
The Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre at the University of Sydney has developed a quick guide (426kb pdf) based on the Start2Talk website with material to assist all adults to plan ahead. The Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre also offers a comprehensive list of resources on advance care planning for people with dementia and for their families including brochures about decision-making, which are also available in community languages.
Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) has information and resources on advance care planning and dementia.
Further information about dementia and advance care planning is available in the ELDAC Dementia Toolkit.
Dementia Australia provides a list of resources on advance care planning specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Aboriginal Health Workers. These are general advance care planning materials and not necessarily specific to dementia.
A report from the Australian Department of Health called Exploratory Analysis of Barriers to Palliative Care – Issues Report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples describes key barriers and promising approaches for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experience of palliative care in Australia. It covers advance care planning and ways the palliative care sector can improve access and quality of care for this group.
The Dying to Talk discussion starter website was designed by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) to help people to begin the conversation about how they want to be cared for and what their wishes and preferences are for their end of life. There is a version designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including a downloadable booklet and online card game to facilitate the conversation.
Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) has information and resources on advance care planning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Some LGBTI people are not in close contact with their biological family, have no children, or have children who do not accept their life decisions. These factors can impact on their healthcare at critical times in their life. The Australian Department of Health has a report available in relation to palliative care for LGBTI people in Australia entitled The Exploratory Analysis of Barriers to Palliative Care: Issues Report on People who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex (2019). The report describes recommendations for improving palliative care access and the quality of care for the LGBTI community. Key points on advance care planning are covered (pages 20-22), including barriers facing this group and enablers for change.
Advance Care Planning Australia (ACPA) has information and resources on advance care planning for the LGBTI+ community.
Forms and requirements for writing advance care plans and appointing substitute decision-makers vary between and states and territories. Advance Care Planning Australia provides information for Australian states and territories.
ACPA has comprehensive resources on understanding advance care planning for individuals and family, friends and carers, including these key resources:
Page updated 7 December 2023