Advance care planning

How would your doctor know what treatments you want or do not want if you were so sick you could not talk? Who would make medical decisions for you?

Advance care planning (ACP) means to think, plan, and write down your wishes for your future health care. As our patient, you will need to make many decisions about your treatment and health care. But how would your doctor know what treatment you would want if you were so sick you could not talk? Who will talk on your behalf? How will they know what medical decisions to make for you? Will they know what is important to you - and make sure we respect your choices? 

What is advance care planning? 

To predict what will happen to each of us and make decisions about the future is hard. This is true for both patients and doctors. It's important to share your values, wishes and choices with your loved ones and doctors. This helps them to respect your choices. It is important to think about ACP from the time of diagnosis. 

Why is advance care planning important? 

Talking about and writing down your values and choices is and lets people know what is most important to you. It is hard for doctors and families to know what they would have wanted if you don't talk about your preferences. Families also benefit if the patient engaged in advance care planning before dying. They tend to have lower rates of anxiety, grief and depression. 

Health professionals and health services might ask you about: 

  • Advance care planning 

  • Advance directives 

Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 

The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 supplies a valuable framework. It is a useful medical treatment decision making tool. It serves patients who lack the ability to make decisions. It ensures that they receive medical treatment consistent with their preferences and values. 

Victorians can create a legally binding advance care directive. This directive will allow them to do the following. 

Make an instructional directive 

This will supply specific directives about treatments to which you consent or refuse. 

Make a values directive 

This will describe your views and values. 

Appoint a medical treatment decision maker 

This person will make decisions on your behalf only if you don't have decision making ability. 

Appoint a support person 

This person will help you make decisions for yourself. They will do so by collecting and interpreting information. They can also do so by helping you communicate your decisions. 

A guide to advance care planning 

Appoint someone to act as your Medical Treatment Decision Maker (MTDM) 

Your appointed MTDM is a person you trust to make decisions for you if you are unable to. This person will champion the choices and values you have shared with them. We used to call this person a “medical power of attorney.” This person only gets the power to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. You may already have appointed a medical power of attorney. If so, they have now become your Medical Treatment Decision Maker.   

Chat and communicate 

Think and talk about your quality of life and what would be important if you became very unwell. Chat to your doctors and loved ones about what you would want and not want. Let them know what is important to you.  

Ask your doctor and nurse about different treatment options. Discuss those treatments you might want or not want. 

Put it on paper 

There are two types of advance directives. You can download the forms from Advance Care Directives or download the form. They let you describe: 

  • Instructional directives which your doctors must obey 

  • Values directives 

Enter it in EPIC 

We need to record your advance care planning and medical treatment decision maker. We do so in the Electronic Medical Record, which we call EPIC. Please ask us if we have done so. 

Where you can get more advice about your advance care plan 

Speak to your treating team or social worker for help with advance care planning. If you have any queries about Advance Care Planning, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Remember you should give a copy of your completed form to: 

  • Your Medical Treatment Decision Maker 

  • Your family or friends 

  • Your doctors 

  • Your community palliative care team 

  • Any hospital you usually attend  

  • Your lawyer if you have one 

What do I do now? 

If you were unwell, and unable to make medical decisions, who would speak for you and what would they say? 

  • Choose someone to act as your medical treatment decision maker 

  • Talk to them about what choices you would want them to make for you if you were too unwell to make them yourself 

  • Think about filling in forms to make sure everyone is aware of your choices. These could include appointing that person as your legal Medical Treatment Decision Maker. You also need to fill out an advance directive. This is either an instructional directive, or a values directive or both 

Advance care planning Resources 

Advance care planning downloads 

Advance care planning links