Advance Care Planning

What is Advance Care Planning (ACP)?

Who would you like to make medical decisions for you if you were not able to make them yourself?  Would that person know what you want?

Advance Care Planning is a process of planning for future health. You can discuss and write down your values, beliefs and preferences.
This can guide health decision-making in the future if you cannot make or communicate your own decisions due to a lack of capacity.

Advance Care Planning is about discussing your life goals, values and choices. Key people who will help you with this process are your doctor or other healthcare professional. During this process it’s a good idea to talk with your family/carer and your healthcare professional. You may talk about your beliefs, values and attitudes towards current or future treatment options.  You could also talk about personal and cultural issues that are important to you.

What are the benefits of Advance Care Planning?

There are 3 major benefits:

Number, Metallic and Blue Number One, 1 illustration, angle, rectangle png thumbnail Advance Care Planning reduces stress for you family
TZ Corporate Consultants, Metallic and Blue Number Two, gray and blue 2 3D text, blue, number png thumbnail Clarifies treatments and identifies the legal decision-maker for medical staff 
3 number illustration, Blue, Metallic and Blue Number Three, text, trademark png thumbnail Gives you peace of mind.

Imagine you are in a situation such as a car accident or if a chronic illness worsens and you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will speak for you if you are not able to speak for yourself?
  • Who do you want to make medical decisions for you if you were not able to make them yourself?
  • Would that person know what you want?
  • Could there be any disagreement amongst your family/friends/carers about your wishes?
  • What medical treatments would you want or not want if you were unlikely to survive?
  • What’s meaningful to you?
  • What does living well mean to you?

Advance Care Planning can reduce the burden of decision-making during crisis situations and can provide a clearer understanding of your wishes. Above all, Advance Care Planning allows your voice to be heard when you are unable to speak for yourself.

When to do ACP

Almost anyone over the age of 18 years can do Advance Care Planning and some key groups that Advance Care Planning is useful for are:

  • Aged or older people who are frail

  • People of any age with chronic progressive and life-limiting conditions

  • People approaching end of life

  • People with multiple health conditions

  • People with early cognitive impairment

  • People who are regularly admitted to hospital.

It is also a good idea to discuss Advance Care Planning if you are having medical or surgical treatment as sometimes these may result in temporary loss of capacity.

A good time to do Advance Care Planning is when your health is stable.

Advance Care Planning in 3 Steps © Northern Health

A       Appoint an Agent

You can sign legal documents making it clear who you want to make medical, legal or lifestyle decisions for you if you are too sick to do it yourself. This is a ‘Medical Enduring Power of Attorney’ for medical decisions or a "Power of Attorney (Legal and Personal matters)' for legal and lifestyle decisions.

C       Chat and Communicate

Talk to your family, friends and doctors about your values, beliefs and healthcare preferences. Tell them about what is important for you. Also, talk to your doctors or other health professionals to find out more about what might be ahead.

P       Put it on Paper

If there is something you feel strongly about, you can write it down in an Advance Care Plan, Advance Care Directive or in a letter describing your health are values and preferences for future medical treatments, including what type of medical treatment you would agree to, and what you would not want.

It is important to think about, and consider, writing down your Advance Care Plan / Directive if:

  • you have firm preferences about future medical treatment
  • you have no-one, or no-one suitable, that you could appoint as a Medical Enduring Power of Attorney
  • you have preferences for your health care that are different from what you think your family would want for you.

Do you need more information?


Your role as 'The Medical Enduring Power of Attorney' 

Bass Coast Health forms    

 Advance Care Planning Guide

   (Statement of Healthcare Choices)
  (Competent person)
   (Person who has lost capacity)

Changes to the law

The Powers of Attorney law in Victoria changed on 1 September 2015.  For information about the changes please visit the Office of the Public Advocate website.

Office of the Public Advocate

If the information you are seeking is not listed below, please visit the Office of the Public Advocate website or call their advice service on
1300 309 337 (Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm).

Medical Enduring Power of Attorney
Consent to and Refusal of Medical Treatment
Take Control - a guide for making enduring powers of attorney
About Powers of Attorney


MyValues is an online questionnaire with a set of specially constructed statements designed to help you identify, consider and communicate your wishes about the medical treatment you want in the later stages of life.

Once a free account is set up, you can take the questionnaire to help you clarify what your beliefs and values are and what you may want done if there was a serious decline in your health.  This information can be kept private or shared with your friends, family and health practitioners and may assist you in the process of Advance Care Planning.

Better Health Channel 

The Better Health Channel is fully funded by the Victorian Government.  It provides health and medical information to improve the health and wellbeing of people and the communities they live in. If the information you are seeking is not listed below please visit the
Better Health Channel website

Information Links

Advance Care Plans
Making plans and decisions for the end of your life
Healthcare decision making – options, benefits and risks
Planning for future needs
Take Control
You decide who decides

Video links - Warning: These videos may show or refer to people no longer living. 

  Putting it in writing 
  Making it easier for everyone
  Act while you're still healthy
  Starting the conversation

Other useful links 

Catholic Health Australia Advance Care Planning documents 
Department of Health - Advance Care Planning
Medical Treatment Act 1988
Seniors Rights Victoria or call 1300 368 821
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or call 9628 9911
Victorian Legal Aid or call 9269 0120