Do you really need Advance Care Planning (ACP)?

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Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a crucial process that allows individuals to make decisions about their future healthcare preferences in case they become unable to communicate or make decisions for themselves. It involves discussing and documenting one’s values, beliefs, and preferences for medical treatment with loved ones and healthcare providers. ACP ensures that an individual’s wishes are known and respected, providing peace of mind for both the individual and their family members.

 

In previous blog, we shared about end-of-life planning, briefly comparing between Advance Care Planning (ACP), Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), and Advance Medical Directive (AMD). In this article, our focus is on Advance Care Planning (ACP).

 

Differences between ACP, AMD, and LPA

It’s important to differentiate between Advance Care Planning (ACP), Advance Medical Directive (AMD), and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). While they all involve making decisions about future healthcare, they serve different purposes:

  1. Advance Care Planning (ACP)
    ACP involves discussing and documenting healthcare preferences and treatment options in advance, ensuring that one’s wishes are known and respected in the event of incapacity.

  2. Advance Medical Directive (AMD)
    An AMD, also known as a living will, is a legal document that specifies the medical treatments an individual wishes to receive or refuse if they become terminally ill or incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes.

  3. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
    An LPA is a legal document that allows an individual (the donor) to appoint one or more persons (attorneys) to make decisions on their behalf should they lose mental capacity.

EoL planning

Purposes of ACP

The primary purposes of ACP include:

  • Ensuring that individuals receive medical care consistent with their values, beliefs, and preferences.
  • Reducing stress and burden on family members by clearly outlining healthcare preferences.
  • Providing guidance to healthcare providers in making treatment decisions.
  • Facilitating communication and understanding among family members regarding end-of-life wishes.
Advance Care Planning

Who can benefit from ACP?

Everyone, regardless of age or health status, can benefit from engaging in ACP. However, it is particularly important for individuals with chronic illnesses, life-limiting conditions, or those who are ageing to discuss and document their healthcare preferences.

 

Engaging in Advance Care Planning offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Empowerment
    Allows individuals to maintain control over their healthcare decisions.
  • Peace of mind
    Provides reassurance that one’s wishes will be honored.
  • Reduced family burden
    Alleviates stress and conflict among family members by clearly outlining healthcare preferences.
  • Improved communication

    Facilitates open and honest discussions about end-of-life wishes.

How to do an ACP?

Engaging in Advance Care Planning involves several steps:

1. Initiate conversations
Start by discussing values, beliefs, and preferences with loved ones and healthcare providers.

2. Choose a healthcare proxy
Select a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

3. Complete advance directives
Fill out relevant documents, such as a living will or healthcare proxy form, to formalise your healthcare preferences.

4. Communicate and review
Share your wishes with family members, healthcare providers, and ensure that documents are regularly reviewed and updated as needed.

 

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Conclusion

Advance Care Planning is a vital process that enables individuals to make informed decisions about their future healthcare preferences. By discussing and documenting one’s wishes in advance, ACP ensures that medical treatments align with an individual’s values and beliefs, providing peace of mind for both the individual and their loved ones. Regardless of age or health status, everyone can benefit from engaging in Advance Care Planning to ensure that their wishes are known and respected during times of incapacity.

 

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