Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication. It is a time for patients to reflect on their values and wishes, and to let people know what kind of health and personal care they would want in the future if they were unable to speak for themselves.
It means requires discussion with family, friends and clinicians, especially the patient's Substitute Decision Maker – the person who will speak for the patient if they cannot speak for themselves.
Advance care planning has been shown to:
Improve quality of life
Reduce stress and anxiety for patients, families and caregivers
Improve communication between patients, families and the health care team
Reduce strain on the health care system
Based on longstanding relationships and involvement in their health care, primary care clinicians are in an ideal position to educate patients about the importance of advance care planning.