Advance Care Planning is for everyone, regardless of age or state of health. In a medical emergency where you become very ill and lose the ability to speak for yourself, the healthcare team may turn to your loved ones to make decisions about your care on your behalf. By communicating your preferences in advance, you can prepare for the unexpected and help relieve some of the burden and stress your loved ones may experience.
Your preferences may be used to guide your healthcare team if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. As long as you have the mental capacity to make decisions, you will be consulted upon for your consent on receiving or ending treatment.
No, a lawyer is not required. Advance Care Planning can take place whenever you share your future healthcare preferences with your loved ones. Document your preferences using the ACP Workbook to ensure your loved ones are clear about your wishes. Patients with more complex health conditions may benefit from having a trained healthcare worker present to facilitate their ACP discussions. ACP Facilitators can be found at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, National University Hospital, Jurong Health (Alexandra Hospital), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore General Hospital, National Heart Centre Singapore and Changi General Hospital.
In a medical crisis where you are no longer able to communicate your wishes, your healthcare team may consult with your loved ones about your care options. By having these conversations with your loved ones, you can help prepare them to convey your wishes to the care team should this day come. If you can, write your preferences down and share this document with your loved ones. It is also useful to appoint a trusted loved one who knows you well to be your voice and make decisions on your behalf.
Yes, ACP is an on-going process and you can change or review your care preferences at any time if you change your mind or if your medical condition changes. Simply share your new wishes with your loved ones and if you have these preferences in writing, be sure to update those documents as well.
The person you have appointed to speak on your behalf should be at least 21 years old. This person may be a family member or a friend. The most important thing is to choose someone whom you trust and know will act in your best interest should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. It is possible to appoint more than one Nominated Healthcare Spokesperson, although all parties should be clear and in agreement about what your preferences are.
Advance Care Planning is an on-going communication process to help patients make informed decisions regarding future healthcare wishes. It is not a legal process in itself. An Advance Medical Directive (made in accordance with the Advance Medical Directive Act) is a legal document that one completes stating that one does not wish to receive extraordinary life-sustaining treatment to artificially prolong life in the event of terminal illness where death is inevitable and impending. One can make an Advance Medical Directive and also undergo the advance care planning process. The existence of an Advance Medical Directive should be documented during ACP discussions. To find out more about an Advance Medical Directive, go to http://www.moh.gov.sg/AMD.