Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning involves:

    • Completing an Advance Care Directive (ACD);
    • Appointing a Substitute Decision Maker (this is optional).

The person making the ACD must be over 18 years of age and must have the capacity to make decisions at the time the ACD is made. Broadly, this means the person is still able to voluntarily make their own informed decisions and communicate them to others.

An ACD can record the person’s values, beliefs, life goals and preferred outcomes, as well as directions about care and treatments, and ensure that these are understood and respected.

How can you help?

Helping a person you care for (or care about) put an ACD in place will make it easier to make informed decisions on their behalf when the time comes. Family, carers, friends and medical staff will know what that person would have wanted and can have peace of mind knowing those wishes are being respected.

For example, having an ACD in place reduces the stress in the event of an emergency or medical crisis, ensuring the person’s values and wishes are understood and implemented.

Substitute Decision Makers

As part of an ACD a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) can be appointed. An SDM must be over 18 years of age and “stands in the shoes” of the person in relation to health, care and lifestyle decisions when that person loses competence or capacity. An SDM should make the decision the person themselves would have made if they had been able to. When called upon to make these decisions, appointment as an SDM gives a person certainty of authority and the comfort of knowing a person’s wishes.

How does acdAssist help?

acdAssist is an online tool which assists individuals to complete an ACD. For further information on using acdAssist to complete an ACD please click on the link Using the acdAssist Tool for Individuals and help guide the person you care about through the process.


Once completed it is important to let others know of the existence of an ACD and where copies are kept.