Step 2.7

What is involved in advanced care planning and directives?

Advance care planning

We make plans in advance for many aspects of our lives, including death.  We make wills, think about funerals, even choose the music we want played at the service.

Advance care planning is a process designed to help you think about, discuss and plan for the medical treatment you would prefer in the event that you become too ill in the future to express your wishes.  Choosing an Enduring Guardian will generally be part of that planning process.


Advance care planning is not euthanasia.

Advance care directives

An advance care directive is a written document that records your wishes concerning the medical treatment decisions you would like to be made, should you become unable to speak for yourself due to illness or injury.

The document may also appoint your substitute decision maker.  While it is generally focused on medical wishes, it can also include non-medical wishes for end of life such as spiritual care.

Tool Tip

You don't need a lawyer to make an advance care directive. Your doctor or someone who is experienced in advance care planning can help you to do it.

It’s a good idea to get your GP to help you make your advance care directive because they know you and your health situation and they can make sure you understand the options you might face in certain situations.

Usually it will be about your right to refuse a treatment that could be given to you in certain situations or to discontinue a treatment in certain situations and under particular conditions, even if this may cause your death or make it happen sooner.   

Remember, an advanced care directive is only used if you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions. The directive is then used to guide the decision making of the medical staff, your substitute decision maker if you have nominated one, and your family.

Advanced Care Planning Australia is a good place to find out everything you need to know.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.