There can be varying levels of formality involved in advance care planning.
Ranging from most to least formal, the options include:
- completing a statutory advance care directive (established in legislation) in which you give instructions about future healthcare treatments, if such a directive is available in your State or Territory
- legally appointing another person to be able to make healthcare and/or lifestyle decisions for you if are not able to do this for yourself, and giving this person instructions on how to make decisions on your behalf
- completing a common law directive that may include a general statement of values, wishes and preferences to guide substitute decision-makers and/or giving directions about consent for, or refusal of, specific treatments
- having one or more conversations about things that are important to you with family members, your GP or other persons.
Benefits of a more formal approach
The benefit of taking a more formal approach is that your wishes can be stated more clearly and they are more likely to be seen as having a legal basis.
Furthermore, if you have appointed a substitute decision-maker and also given them clear and formal instructions, that person will feel more confident about advocating strongly on your behalf if there is uncertainty or disagreement about certain decisions.