Advance care planning enables a person to discuss and document the extent of medical intervention they wish to receive when in critical care or if approaching the end of their life.

Advance care planning should be part of routine practice and with the increasing impact of COVID-19 on services, it is critical for clinical staff to proactively engage in these discussions with all patients and families.

NSW Health recommends that all staff be reminded of the importance of asking all patients if they have an advance care plan and/or advance care directive.

For clinicians and health staff

The NSW Advance Care Directive Guidelines provide guidance to health professionals on how to discuss advance care planning and use an advance care directive as part of this process. Resources include information about how to sensitively and affectively engage with patients and their families about advance care planning.

While patients’ wishes may not always be met, advance care planning​ can support clinical care which better aligns with patients’ preferences.

For patients and families

NSW Health information is also available to help people to understand the importance of planning ahead and of documenting their preferences for care and treatment:

For residential aged care facilities

Local health districts may also engage with local partners including residential aged care facilities and encourage them to ensure advance care planning information is available and up to date for residents.

Useful resources to support advance care planning in aged care settings include:

More information on advance care planning and COVID-19 is available on Advance Care Planning Australia. Health practitioners and patients can also call the advisory service on 1800 987 649 between Monday and Friday from 9am – 5pm.

Document information

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Health and Social Policy Branch (HSPB)


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Current as at: Tuesday 23 June 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW