What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is planning for future health and personal care. This becomes important if you can't make a decision or communicate your wishes at the time that treatment or care is being proposed. 

Advance care planning can help you receive the treatment of your choice in the future. It can help you, the doctors, and your family understand what you want and what is important to you.

There is no better time than now to start your advance care planning.

Advance care planning can be done by appointing a trusted person to speak on your behalf and/or writing down your wishes.

Why should I do an advance care plan?

Imagine if you became very sick and were unable to communicate with the doctors. Think about:

  • Who would speak on your behalf?
  • Will they know what you want?
  • What would you like doctors to know?
  • What is meaningful and important to you?
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That information can be used to guide decisions about your treatment and care. An advance care plan will only be used if you are unable to communicate or make decisions yourself. It will assist in the making of medical decisions for you.

Talking about and writing down your wishes for future care can reduce stress for your family and give you peace of mind.

Who should do an advance care plan?

Anyone over the age of 18 can make an advance care plan. For example, you may wish to make an advance care plan if:

  • - You have a condition which might affect your capacity to make decisions in the future,
  • - You are over 65,
  • - You have other health problems,
  • - Your health condition changes.
  • Why make an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment)?

You can appoint any adult that you wish using an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) form. However it is usually a significant other such as partner, family member or trusted friend. This person can then make decisions about your medical treatment if you are unable to do so. The Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) is a legal document. It makes it very clear to doctors who your decision maker is if you are no longer capable of making medical decisions for yourself, or communicating those decisions to others. Your medical power of attorney should be someone you trust to respect and carry out your wishes, who knows you well, who is over the age of 18 and available to talk to doctors.

Your medical power of attorney can also refuse treatment on your behalf in certain circumstances.

How often do I need to do one?

We recommend you review the form every time there is a change to your health, or at least once a year.

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  • For further information:

    For further information speak with your family doctor, or contact Mercy Health on 8754 3206 or acp@mercy.com.au

    Mercy Health has developed an advance care plan and guide, which can be recognised at any health service across Victoria.

  • Download a brochure

  • Links and resources:

    The Office of the Public Advocate:

    For more information on powers of attorney, ring 1300 309 337.

  • Information about Powers of Attorney in Victoria and the two Enduring Power of Attorney forms: download 'Take Control' here

  • For information about medical consent click here


  • Catholic Health Australia:  http://myfuturecare.org.au/

    Videos about advance care planning:

    For a general overview of advance care planning click here

    For videos of people discussing their advance care plans click here

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