Why does thinking ahead matter to me?

Serious illness brings challenges that many of us prefer to avoid thinking about. At the same time many of us fear loss of control about decisions relating to our health.

Thinking ahead and writing down what matters to you can be a daunting process. However if no one else knows what is important to you, your preferences and choices may not be taken into consideration.

It may be difficult to talk together as a family and you may not always agree, but having these conversations can help direct decisions that sometimes need to be made at a time of crisis.

Writing your preferences down will ensure that anyone who provides care for you can tailor it to your wishes.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is the process of deciding what plans you want to make for your future care, often in discussion with a healthcare professional. This may take place whenever you think about what care you might need in the future. 

Why is it a good idea to write down what I think?

Writing down your preferences and choices can help you to influence what happens to you if a time comes when you are no longer able to communicate your wishes. It gives you the opportunity to think about what you would and would not like to happen to you.

It will also help healthcare professionals know what is important to you when planning your care should you ever not be in a position to tell them yourself.

Where can I write down my preferences?

Trinity has an Advance Care Plan booklet that you can use for this purpose. The booklet will guide you through a series of questions and ideas for you to think about. The booklet is yours and you can show it to whoever you decide needs to see it.

What sort of things should I write about?

Advance care planning should incorporate everything that is important to you, for example your physical care or your values and beliefs.

Bearing in mind your circumstances can change, the booklet can help you to think about aspects of care that you haven’t yet had to consider.

You do not have to complete it all at once, you may want to think about or discuss things with your family and/or friends or your healthcare team.

Can I change my mind once I have written down my wishes?

Recording your preferences in this way creates an ‘advance statement’ which is not legally binding. We suggest that you should review it regularly with your family or healthcare team. You can change your mind at any time.

What about treatment I don’t want?

You can record in this document certain treatments or procedures you would rather not have and this will be taken into account.

However if you feel really strongly about refusing certain treatments you will need to complete an Advance Directive to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) which is a legally binding document.

It is important that an ADRT is put in writing, signed and witnessed and that it includes a statement that the decision stands ‘even if life is at risk’.