Life Matters: Introduction to Advanced Care Planning
By Lawyers Tan Shen Kiat, Cheronne Lim and Angela Teo, Guest Writers from the Law Society Pro Bono Services
Whether you’re raising a young family or have entered your golden years of later life, you may have concerns about what to do if your physical or mental health should fail one day.
Advance Care Planning (“ACP”) is one of the tools to consider in future-proofing your care.
What is ACP?
ACP is an ongoing conversation that helps you to decide on future care options. You can nominate someone, such as your current or future caregiver, to make any medical decisions on your behalf.
Your wishes will be recorded in an ACP document, which can be updated anytime.
It is a roadmap to guide your appointed decision-maker on making care decisions on your behalf based on your preferences.
Who should consider ACP?
Anyone can start the ACP process, regardless of age or health condition, to document their healthcare preferences.
For those who have chronic or terminal illnesses, early cognitive impairment, or are approaching the end-of-life, ACP would be of greater importance.
Is ACP legally binding?
While it is not legally binding, ACP should be an integrated part of your estate planning suite together with other legally binding documents such as the Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) and the Advance Medical Directive (“AMD”).
Briefly: An LPA is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more decision-makers (known as donees) on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. The donee will act on your behalf in matters relating to personal welfare and/or property and affairs. An AMD is a legal document stating your preference not to have extraordinary life-sustaining treatment in the event that you become terminally ill and unconscious.
Whilst each serves a different purpose, they all seek to communicate how you wish to be cared for when you no longer have the mental capacity to do so. If you already have an LPA and/or AMD, do include your appointed future caregivers in the ACP discussion.
Ideally, you should appoint the same person or persons in the ACP and LPA, to avoid potential disagreements when they make care decisions on your behalf.
Who should I appoint as my Nominated Healthcare Spokesperson?
Your Nominated Healthcare Spokesperson (“NHS”) should be someone whom you know well enough to have an open conversation with about your ACP.
Someone whom you trust enough to speak up for your values, and to act in your best interests when you cannot speak for yourself. This may mean being able to make tough decisions under stressful circumstances.
You can nominate up to 2 persons as your NHS.
How do I start my ACP?
You may contact an ACP provider today for assistance. (https://www.aic.sg/care-services/acp-directory)
ACP providers include most hospitals, selected polyclinics, and community care providers. If you are already a patient at a hospital or polyclinic, you may wish to ask your treating doctor for a referral.
How can I prepare before seeing an ACP provider?
Some questions to consider include:
For more information about ACP, click here to download the AIC Advanced Care Planning Workbook.
Find out more
Find out more at the following links below:
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