Advance Care Planning Policy Consultation Launched

Date published: 17 December 2021

Health Minister Robin Swann has invited the public to have their say on a draft Advance Care Planning Policy for adults in Northern Ireland.

Advance Care Planning is an umbrella term covering personal, legal, clinical, and financial planning. It enables a person to think about what is important to them and plan for their future. It will encourage people to have conversations about things such as making a will, their online accounts and who will care for their dependents or look after their pets if they are no longer able to do this for themselves.  

The draft policy provides a framework for adults (aged 18 years and over), to have greater choice and control over decisions, including plans for their future care and treatment. 

Launching the consultation Minister Swann said: “Advance Care Planning should be an important part of life for all adults. A critical part of this is thinking about the things that matter to us and having conversations about our wishes, feelings, beliefs, values and preferences for our future, including future care and treatment.

“Having these conversations may seem difficult, but in reality they are among the most essential and worthwhile conversations a person can have. It can make a real difference to the person themselves and to those important to them.

“I would encourage everyone to consider the draft policy and make your views known as part of this consultation process.”

A wide-ranging stakeholder engagement process was undertaken to inform the development of the policy and increase knowledge and understanding of Advance Care Planning.

Acknowledging the contributions of all those who supported the development of the policy, Corrina Grimes, Regional Advance Care Planning Lead said: “The development of this draft policy has been through extensive conversations, discussions and input from a significant number of people.

“These included interested members of the public, those who work in Health and Social Care, or statutory organisations, as well as input from the community and voluntary sector and academia.

“Often we heard a shared lived experience of when people had planned ahead, and how that had alleviated anxiety for both the person and those important to them with the reassurance that their care, treatment and other wishes were known. Sadly there was also the shared experiences of people who hadn’t had conversations, and how that had added to distress in times of already immense emotions.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “Throughout the stakeholder engagement, there has been a clear message that people recognise the importance of Advance Care Planning. The ambition of the policy is that all adults have regular opportunities to express their wishes, feelings, beliefs and values and that these are reflected in the care, support or treatment they receive.”

The consultation will close at 5pm on 11 March 2022.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Advance Care Planning is an umbrella term covering personal, legal, clinical, and financial planning. It enables a person to think about what is important to them and plan for their future.
  1. It is a voluntary process and helps a person to make known what their wishes, feelings, beliefs and values are, and to make choices that reflect these.
  1. A person’s conversations, any recommendations and/or decisions will be used in the future should a person become unable to make the relevant decisions for themselves at any point. This may be due to declining health or an unexpected medical emergency.
  1. It encourages these plans to be made in conversation with those who are important to the person and/or someone providing care, support or treatment. 
  1. Further information about the stakeholder engagement is available in the Advance Care Planning Early Stakeholder Engagement Report.
  1. The consultation is available to access on the Department of Health website.
  1. The consultation will open on 17 December for 12 weeks and close at 5pm on 11 March 2022.
  1. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email at
  1. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
  1. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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