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MS Australia marks Advance Care Planning Week – 16-22 April 2018

advance care planning week
16 April 2018

If you couldn’t speak for yourself, who would you want to speak on your behalf?

What decisions about your healthcare would you want them to make?

Planning medical care in advance regardless of your age or health is really important, and particularly so if you have a chronic illness such as MS, or you’re getting older.

We’d probably all agree that it’s a good idea to make these plans, but they’re often hard conversations to have with family, loved ones and health care providers, so we just keep putting it off.

Between 16-22 April this year, all Australians are encouraged to discuss their future health care preferences with their loved ones.

After speaking with your family and health care professionals, the next important step is to create a plan that documents your wishes. Known as an Advance Care Plan (ACP), this involves planning your medical care in advance regardless of your age or health.

An ACP gives you a chance to document your values, beliefs and preferences so your family and health care providers can guide decision making if you can’t make or communicate your decisions in the future. Having a plan means your friends, family and doctors aren't guessing about what's important to you or what an acceptable outcome is for your life. It ensures your voice is heard if medical decisions have to be made for you.

Research shows that families of people who have done advance care planning are less prone to anxiety, depression and stress and are more satisfied with the care their loved ones receive.

Related but different, an Advance Care Directive (ACD) records your requests in a document that is recognised by common law or legislation. An ACD is usually discussed with your doctor to ensure a/ your decisions are informed by your health and b/ your treating doctor understands your wishes.

As part of your ACD, you can choose someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. This person, known as a substitute decision maker (SDM), can act as your voice if you’re no longer able to.

Advance Care Planning Week raises awareness of advance care planning across Australia. We're joining with other organisations to encourage all Australians to start the conversation with their friends and family about what's important to them.

You can take part by hosting or attending an event, or simply help raise awareness of advance care planning by sharing your values and conversations on social media during National Advance Care Planning Week using #acpweek18.

Advance Care Planning Australia is a national program supported by funding from by the Australian Government Department of Health, enabling Australians to make the best choices for their life and health care.

For more information, visit the Advance Care Planning Australia website.

Advance care planning requirements differ from state to state. So, simply select your state or territory from the link below to find the information and forms to start developing your Advance Care Plan.

(Guides and booklets are also available from this site)