Advance Care Planning

What is Advance Care Planning (ACP)?

Who do you want to make medical decisions for you if you were not able to make them yourself?  Would they 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.

Click the play button to watch this short video on Advance Care Planning.




What are the benefits of Advance Care Planning?

There are 3 major benefits:

Advance Care Planning reduces stress for you family
Clarifies treatments and identifies the legal decision maker for medical staff 
  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 & Communicate

Talk to your family, friends and doctors about your values, beliefs and health care 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 care 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?



Who will make medical decisions for you? 
  Your role as 'The Medical Enduring Power of Attorney' 


Bass Coast Health forms    

   Advance Care Planning Guide
   Advance Care Plan (Statement of Healthcare Choices)
   Medical Enduring Power of Attorney Form
   Refusal of Treatment Certificate (Competent person)
   Refusal of Treatment Certificate (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