What is Advance Care Planning?

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 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.

Advance Care Planning is an on-going process of conversations between a person, those important to them and those providing care, support or treatment. Advance Care Planning should be an important part of life for all adults.

Advance Care Planning Seeds Grants Up to £2000 available

Advance Care Planning Seed Grants are to support creative projects which encourage people to start conversations about their future wishes, now, What is most important to us? How can those things most vital to us remain central to our lives?

Find out more information on the DoH website or download an application here and apply by 4 March 12 noon.

Advance Care Planning policy

An Advance Care Planning policy for adults (aged 18 years and over) in Northern Ireland is being developed to support a person to have greater choice and control over decisions, including plans for their future care and treatment. This is very important if the person becomes unable to make the relevant decisions for themselves at any point.

Advance Care Planning provides the opportunity for adults who wish to do so to:

  • think about what matters to them;
  • then tell people who are important to them;
  • discuss it with those who provide care, support or treatment;
  • write it down and share it;
  • revisit the conversations and decisions, make any changes, and then share again.

Advance Care Planning is for everyone

Advance Care Planning is important for all adults, at whatever stage of life. Although Advance Care Planning has traditionally been associated with end of life care, it goes beyond this. As well as supporting decisions in declining health and unexpected emergencies, the opportunity it provides to reflect and consider what is important to the person can enhance their quality of life. It may also provide comfort and reassurance to those important to the person.

The Advance Care Planning policy will provide a framework for Advance Care Planning for adults in Northern Ireland, focusing on the health and social care aspects.  The policy will provide an overview of Advance Care Planning, and the values and principles that underpin it.  It will explain why Advance Care Planning is important and how it can help people make timely, realistic and practical plans for their future. It will encourage people to do so in conversation with those who are important to them and/or someone providing care, support or treatment.

Early Stakeholder Engagement

The Advance Care Planning Programme Team has engaged widely during the development of the draft Advance Care Planning policy.  These engagements have been conducted based upon principles of inclusiveness and accessibility. A wide range of sectors, organisations and individuals have been involved, including carers and interested members of the public.  Between December 2020 and September 2021, there have been two phases of early engagements with stakeholders to inform and shape the development of a draft policy.

Phase I engagement took place between late December 2020 and late February 2021.  During this phase, 40 engagement sessions were held. All feedback from the Phase I engagements was analysed and considered to inform a second draft of the policy document. The revised draft of the policy document was subjected to further scrutiny by stakeholders in Phase II of the stakeholder engagements. These consisted of 5 online webinars attended by approximately 200 individuals. 

To learn more the policy development process, a full report on the Advance Care Planning early stakeholder engagements is available to download from the Departmental website.

Advance Care Planning Policy for Adults in Northern Ireland: Report on Early Stakeholder Engagement December 2020 – July 2021

Consultation on the Draft Advance Care Planning Policy for Adults in Northern Ireland and Draft Equality Impact Assessment

The Draft Advance Care Planning Policy is out for Public Consultation on the Department of Health website.

March 2021 Press Release: Advance Care Planning Policy for Adults in Northern Ireland 


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