- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- Planning ahead
- Advance care planning
Advance care planning
It can be a good idea to plan for your future medical treatment and care, and to discuss your preferences and values with your family, friends and health care team. This process is called advance care planning, and it helps ensure that your family and health care team will make decisions that respect your treatment preferences when you are unable to communicate your wishes.
Advance care planning involves:
Your advance care documents can be as simple or as detailed as you like. If you have religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs that may affect your health care decisions, you can record these in your advance care documents. You need to be an adult and have capacity to complete advance care documents.
Advance care planning doesn’t mean that you have given up or will die soon – it gives you the security to know that you have planned for the worst and that you can now focus on treatment and living. It only comes into effect if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Studies show that families of people who have done advance care planning feel less anxiety and stress when asked to make important health decisions for other people.
Each state or territory has different laws about advance care directives and substitute decision-makers. Read more about these laws in NSW.
To find out more, visit Advance Care Planning Australia or call 1300 208 582. You can also seek independent legal advice.
Steps in advance care planning
1. Talk to othersUse one of the following guides to reflect on your preferences and discuss your choices with family and friends:Advance Care Planning Australia’s conversation starters Palliative Care Australia’s discussion starter.
2. Record your treatment goalsFor information relevant to your state or territory, visit Advanced Care Planning Australia. Documents must include the following details:names and contact details of your substitute decision-makeroutline of treatments, care or services that you do or do not wantsignature and date for both you and your witness.
3. Make copiesShare copies of your advance care documents with your GP, oncologist, palliative care team, substitute decision-maker, hospital and family or friends.Ask your doctor or hospital to include the plan in your medical record.Save it online at www.myhealthrecord.gov.auReview the documents regularly and update them whenever your wishes change.
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.