Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a process whereby a capable (mentally competent) adult engages in a plan for making personal health care decisions in the event that they becomes incapable (legally incompetent to personally direct) his or her own health care. (1) ACP is about conversations and wishes. It is a process of reflection and communication involving discussions with family and friends, especially with a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM). (2)
Use of written wishes can be risky, but many people rely on writing their wishes down. Written wishes can become obsolete, misused or misinterpreted as a decision. Wishes may be vague in language and may not speak to a specific situation that occurs.
Wishes can change, especially if a person’s health condition changes. It is not always possible to anticipate a course of illness or articulate what the person wants or doesn’t want in a particular situation. For example, new treatment(s) may become available; therefore reviewing wishes is an important part of the ongoing process. (3)