Advance Care Planning

Planning for your care in advance

Advance Care Planning


Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is a process of planning in advance for what medical treatment and care you do and do not consent. It delivers on the principal of attempting to give each of us maximum control and autonomy over our own lives and our own decision-making. 

Medical advancements see us living longer, including with chronic diseases or illnesses. Without an Advance Care Directive in place, many people find themselves undergoing medical interventions they would not have wanted.

If you've ever started a new treatment program or hospital admission, you may have been involved in documenting your goals of care. A decision-making discussion to capture your beliefs, values, and preferences as they apply to the current episode of care. Advance care planning is about capturing these decisions and preferences to guide decisions about your medical treatments or personal care in the event you are unable to make or communicate these decisions yourself. 

Patient in emergency

Why do it?

So that doctors and loved ones have guidance on what we want if we're unable to communicate ourselves.

Anyone who does not have decision-making capacity due to illness or injury, may be limited in options for making decisions about their own medical treatment and care.

This is why it is important to create your own directive while you're well and have clear decision making capacity.

Doctor preparing for surgery on a patient's head

There is a bit of a stigma around Advance Care Planning being for the elderly or terminally ill.

Of course it is important if that's where you're at in life but, the reality is accidents and illness can happen at any time.

A few important things

  • The rules, processes and documents vary between States and Territories in Australia. 
  • Statutory directives are preferred by medical professionals due to legal concerns, although common law directives are much easier to create, and are legally recognised almost everywhere in Australia. The exceptions are that Victoria only recognises refusals of treatment (which is the majority of the legally binding part of your directive), and Queensland only recognises Statutory directives. 
  • If you're looking to make plans for someone who does not have decision-making capacity, you can use the forms and tools available on our site to inform medical professionals and anyone providing care. However directions are not legally binding, meaning they do not have to be followed.
  • Please don't take this to mean they are not useful. Any information that helps others understand what is important to your loved one having a good quality life will help guide any decisions made.
Hands on a computer keyboard

It is your right to control any medical treatment and personal care given to you

Not having a plan or directive in place effectively gives up that right and allows someone else to decide what happens to you. 

Documenting your plan


There are a few different options for creating your own directive. The key differences are cost, complexity and legal recognition across different States & Territories.

Rules that apply to all States & Territories:

  • Only you can write your own Directive - If written by someone else, it is referred to as a Plan. Although very informative, a plan is not legally binding.
  • You must be over 18
  • You must not have a guardian
  • You must have decision making capacity
  • You must be doing this voluntarily

Learn more about documentation rules, options, and processes on our Advance Care Directives information page

Advance Care Directives info page >

Traditional paper option

Paper based forms

This free option is good for people who are confident completing the paper forms without guidance and are happy to create a new version for any changes or future updates. 

Form downloads >

Image of a paper advance care directive form

Pros:

  • Hard copy
  • Free
  • Can be easily filed with other documents

Cons:

  • Your handwriting may be difficult for others to read
  • Requires access to a printer (Officeworks have easily accessible print services if you don't have a printer)
  • Instructions and guidance are found in a separate document
  • No spell checker
  • Updates usually mean starting a new document
  • Difficult to share
  • When updating you need to get any copies back to avoid multiple versions being held by others
  • You and your witnesses need to be together at the time of signing (Required for Statutory directives, recommended for others)

Electronic versions of paper forms

Fillable PDF versions of paper based forms

This is a good option if you want to type your document and print it out later.

See below to download documents for your State orTerritory.

Form downloads >

paper forms filled in electronically

Pros:

  • Hard copy
  • Free
  • Can be easily filed with other documents
  • Spell checker
  • You can start and stop as often as you like until you're ready to print
  • You can print multiple copies and have them all signed and witnessed
  • Your writing will be legible

Cons:

  • Requires access to a printer (Officeworks have easily accessible print services if you don't have a printer)
  • Instructions and guidance are found in a separate document
  • Updates usually mean starting a new document
  • Difficult to share
  • When updating you need to get any copies back to avoid multiple versions being held by others.
  • You and your witnesses need to sign
  • Your device must meet the technical requirements for fillable PDF documents - most do.

Fully digital option - the new kid on the block! 

Fully digital

Although this option comes with a small cost attached it provides the most flexibility of any other option available today. 

Register for digital planning >

Online fully digital forms

Pros:

  • Guided multiple choice questions with space for free notes and comments
  • Can't be damaged, lost or illegible.
  • Expert tips right where you need them
  • Easy to update
  • Easy to share
  • Easy for others to find
  • Can be printed for a hard copy
  • Printed version can be easily filed with other documents
  • Spell checker
  • You can start and stop as often as you like
  • Option for a GP review and capacity assessment
  • Easy to register and upload on MyHealthRecord
  • Available on any internet connected desktop, laptop, tablet or phone
  • Latest version is always available - no old versions (provided you're not storing old printed copies)
  • Unlimited sharing
  • Legally recognised in all states except Queensland
  • Government certified secure data storage

Cons:

  • Cost - although at $3 a week, it's less than a cup of coffee
  • Can't print out a blank version to view questions ahead of completing
  • Not a Statutory directive (still legally recognised except in Queensland) 

Want to know more about digital planning?

Flamingo is the only Australian solution designed to keep everything in one place - it couldn't be easier. 

How membership works

NEXT: Personal Succession Planning

Have you made a plan to help others find your important information when you die? Find out how easy it is with our Personal Succession Planning features (included in all Flamingo subscriptions) 

Personal Succession Planning information >

PLEASE NOTE: Our advice should be considered general in nature. We do not provide any legal, tax, medical or other professional advice and would advise that you seek expert professional or medical advice before making any decisions based on your individual circumstances.