Advance care planning

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The aim of this guideline is to inform health and social care professionals on how best to manage advance care planning (ACP) in clinical practice.

At the core of current health and social care are efforts to maximise individuals' autonomy, promote patient-centred care, offer choice and the right to decide one's own treatment or care. This can be difficult to achieve when an individual has lost capacity - the ability to make their own, informed decision. ACP is one method of enhancing autonomy, not only where an individual has lost capacity, but also by focussing discussion on the individual's values and preferences throughout the time they are in contact with health or social care professionals.

Whilst ACP has been used for some time in North America, there has been relatively little experience in the use of ACP in the UK. This set of concise evidence-based guidelines has therefore been prepared to guide practitioners. It contains a number of recommendations, such as training for and implementation of ACP, when and with whom to consider having ACP discussions, the context and content of discussions, preparing ACP documents and cognitive impairment.

This concise guidance is primarily aimed at professionals in England and Wales and will be relevant to all doctors involved in ACP, especially geriatricians, psychiatrists, general practitioners, general physicians and acute medicine specialists.