What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance Care Planning (ACP) is the process of considering health care you want in the future and choosing someone, called a health care agent, to speak for you if you cannot communicate.

ACP includes conversations with your loved ones and health care provider about your goals, values and beliefs.

After you know what you want and do not want, you should complete a legal document called an advance directive so that your wishes can be honored. It includes two parts: a health care directive for treatment wishes and a durable power of attorney for health care to name your health care agent. You can update this document whenever you wish.

Five simple steps to completing an advance directive

1. Select a person who can speak for you if you are too ill or unable to communicate clearly (health care agent).

2. Think about what is most important for your quality of life should you become seriously ill or injured with a life-threatening condition.

3. Write down your wishes in an advance directive form. Your health care directive indicates care you wish to have or avoid such as a feeding tube or life sustaining measures.* Durable power of attorney for health care names your health care agent.

4. Have document notarized or your signature witnessed by two people who are not related to you or might benefit financially from you.

5. Share copies of your advance directives with your family, caregivers and health care team so they can support you and your decisions when needed.

* Examples of life sustaining measures:

  • CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
  • Breathing tube or ventilator
  • Dialysis
  • Feeding tube or IV Hydration
  • Medications like antibiotics or those to support blood pressure

More information

For information or assistance in completing your advance directive, or if you wish to meet with a trained facilitator to walk you through the process, please send us an email or contact your Providence primary care provider.

Additional resources: