Palliative Care - Advance Care Planning

Page last updated: 15 February 2017

Promoting the autonomy and dignity of an individual is an important part of providing high quality, person-centre care.

Advance care planning is intended to enable individuals to make plans for their future care. The process encourages individuals to reflect on what is important to them, on their beliefs, values, goals and preferences in life, and how they want to be cared for if they reach a point where they cannot communicate decisions about medical care for themselves.

Advance care planning and advance care directives are governed by state and territory legislation. For advance care planning information specific to your state or territory, please visit the Advance Care Planning website.

The Australian Government funds the following projects to support advance care planning:

Decision Assist

Decision Assist provides specialist palliative care and advance care planning advisory services nationally to aged care providers and general practitioners caring for recipients of aged care services.

Decision Assist provides:

  • a one-stop palliative care resource website;
  • an Advisory Service phone line for health professionals working with recipients of aged care services, seeking advice on advance care planning (9am-5pm Monday to Friday AEST) or palliative care (24 hours/7 days); and
  • training on palliative care and advance care planning.
Decision Assist also aims to improve linkages between aged care and palliative care services and to improve palliative care skills and advance care planning expertise of aged care staff and general practitioners caring for recipients of aged care services.

Grants were provided to support the implementation of linkage strategies with the potential to improve the quality of end-of-life care for older people in residential and community settings. Information about these grants is available on the Decision Assist Linkages website.

Respecting Patient Choices

The Respecting Patient Choices (RPC) project aims to ensure patients’ choices about their end-of-life care are respected. In doing so, RPC aims to develop a program for advance care planning (ACP) promotion and capacity building that can be implemented nationally. RPC focuses on developing systems of training, clinical practices, and policies for effective advance care planning.

ACP Talk- Online Religious and Culturally Sensitive Advance Care Planning

Cabrini Health is funded to strengthen the understanding and uptake of advance care planning across the palliative care sector by developing an advance care planning online resource, with consideration of various religious and cultural denominations, to assist in end-of-life decision making. This has been undertaken in consultation with religious, cultural and national palliative care organisations. More information can be found on the ACPTalk website.

The National Framework for Advance Care Directives

The National Framework for Advance Care Directives, produced by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council in 2011, recognises the potential improvements advance care directives (ACDs) may make to care and decision making during times of impaired capacity, especially towards the end-of-life. The purpose of the Framework is to provide guidance on policy and best practice in relation to advance care directives.

The Framework is primarily intended for regulators, including legislators and policy makers in governments and parliaments, and administrators of advance care planning programs in the health and aged care sectors. The Framework outlines the key ethical and practical aspects of ACDs.