In our previous article, we talked about creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
If you haven’t read it, here’s the tl;dr.
An LPA is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone you trust to make important decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. This person can make important medical and financial decisions.
If you’re in the process of long-term planning or making an LPA, you should also consider making an Advance Care Plan (ACP).
An ACP is about planning for your healthcare now and in the future. It helps you share your values and healthcare preferences with your loved ones and healthcare team, so if you can’t make decisions, they know what’s best for you.
This article was written by a Financial Horse Contributor.
Why Should You Make an Advance Care Plan?
More people are choosing to make an ACP, according to The Straits Times. 36,600 have made one as of May 2023.
Why are they recognising its importance?
For one, documenting your preferences in advance clarifies your goals and values. This makes it easier for your loved ones and healthcare providers to honour your wishes.
It puts less stress on others to make decisions on your behalf.
For example, let’s say you were to suffer a serious stroke and can’t speak. Your loved ones have a difficult decision to make. Should they reduce your pain or discomfort, and let you pass with dignity? Or should they exhaust all possible treatments, no matter the pain or discomfort?
It can be difficult and emotional to make these kinds of choices in a critical situation. That’s why you need to reflect on what kind of care you want and document them.
This takes us to the next step.
How to Make an Advance Care Plan?
Step 1: Communicate with Your Family and Caregivers
Start by discussing your values and medical care preferences with your family and loved ones. Don’t assume they are aware of your preferences because you’re close. These are difficult conversations, so make it easier by being open with your views.
You should also speak to your doctor. They can give you more information and advice on your current health status, and considerations for the future. You should involve them early so they are well-informed about your wishes.
Step 2: Nominate Healthcare Spokespersons
Next, select up to two nominated healthcare spokespersons. They need to be at least 21 years old and have the mental capacity to represent your care preferences. They could be your husband/wife or partner, a family member or friend.
When choosing your nominated healthcare spokespersons, consider the following factors: familiarity with your preferences, trustworthiness, and their ability to communicate your goals and values to the healthcare team and other loved ones.
Step 3: Prepare Your ACP
You can prepare your ACP online here. You can also get a paper form in person when you make an appointment with your ACP facilitator.
After completing your form with the facilitator, you and your nominated healthcare spokespersons need to sign it.
Then, you need to consult a certified ACP facilitator to submit your ACP to the National Electronic Healthcare Record (NEHR). You can choose from this list of facilitators. You can have this discussion in person or via teleconference.
If you plan to create your LPA and ACP together, consider engaging bundled providers who can help you do both together.
Step 4: Periodically Review Your ACP
The ACP is a living document. You should revisit it every few years, especially after significant life events. This includes reaching a new decade in your life, receiving a significant medical diagnosis, or experiencing a substantial change in your daily functioning.
If you make any changes to your ACP, remember to also let your nominated healthcare spokespersons know too.
Remember that an ACP is not a legally binding document. It is a tool to document your values and preferences.
Nevertheless, the ACP remains a critical component of end-of-life planning that should not be overlooked.