What is an ACP ? (it’s an Advance Care Plan)

Usually Coffin Club likes to get involved after someone’s already brown bread – funerals are our jam! but, sometimes we venture out of our lane as there are things around death and dying that it’s really helpful to know about and there’s a lot of acronyms out there to bamboozle and discombobulate… so, let’s dive right in with ACP – Advance Care Plan.

Pretty much what it says on the box… Thinking about your potential care needs in the future, writing down what you think your wishes would be, and making sure your important person has access to them so that they can put them in place should you be unable to make or express your decisions in the future. This is where an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) is important… but that’s the next blog!!

What might you include in an ACP… You can include anything you like but some things that you might consider are – How you would like to be looked after. Where you would like to be looked after should you become less well/able – would you be happy to go into a carehome? Would you do anything you could to stay in your own home? Where would you like to die?

Any spiritual or religious beliefs you would like recognised/accommodated? Who you want to spend time with. Who your care team should talk to if you become unable to make decisions yourself (LPA comes in here again).

Practical matters such as who will look after your pets.

What you would like to happen to your body after you die? Do you want a DNR (do not resuscitate) in place? Whether you have considered organ donation.

It may seem like a lot… but, once you’ve done the donkey work and put your plan in place you and your people can sit back and relax a bit, knowing that they know your wishes.
So, have a think about what the future might hold, talk to the people who are important to you and who might be left to carry your particular can, jot your wishes down and let your important people and (if you’re at that stage) the healthcare professionals involved in your care, know where they can access it. Discuss – an ACP is not legally binding, (it’s a bit like a birth-plan, your best-case scenario) so you need to be aware that sometimes what you want and what is most appropriate at the time, may not be the same.

To help you, here are key components typically covered in an ACP:

1. Personal Information

2. Health Conditions and Medical History

3. Values and Preferences

4. Treatment Preferences

5. Pain Management and Palliative Care

6. End-of-Life Wishes

7. Mental Health Care

8. Appointing a Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney

9. Communication and Documentation

10. Legal Considerations

Conclusion

An Advance Care Plan is a vital document that ensures your healthcare preferences are known and respected when you are unable to voice them yourself. By covering these comprehensive elements, you can provide clear guidance to your loved ones and healthcare providers, helping them make decisions that align with your wishes and values.

There isn’t an official template but lots of NHS trusts have a form on their websites as does Hospice UK, Marie Curie and MyWishes orĀ @mygoodbyesapp

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