Planning Ahead

Advance Care Planning is an important stage in the care of someone with a life limiting or life threatening condition. This section gives an overview of what Advance Care Planning is and the types of questions a person in palliative care may need to answer. 

Macmillan Cancer Care

Advance Planning ahead for our healthcare isn’t something we usually think about. If we’re well, we don’t expect to become seriously ill. We may assume that we’ll always be able to make decisions for ourselves even when we’re unwell, but this isn’t always the case. For many people with an illness – especially a long-term illness – planning ahead may feel particularly difficult. You may already be struggling to cope with fears and uncertainties about the future. It’s important that you don’t feel alone when planning ahead. Remember that health and social care professionals can help you, as well as your family and friends.  

Planning Ahead could include the following:

  • Where you would like to be cared for if you can no longer look after yourself, for example at home, or in a hospital, care home or hospice.
  • What kind of care you would like. However, bear in mind that you can’t demand particular treatments.
  • Where you’d like to be cared for when you’re dying, for example at home, or in a hospital, care home or hospice.
  • Information about specific spiritual or religious practices that you’d like to be carried out or reflected in your care.
  • Which family members or close friends you would like to be involved in your care.
  • Who you would like to act on your behalf if decisions need to be made about your care.
  • Who you would like to look after any pets.
  • Whether you would like someone to tell you how serious your condition is and the likely prognosis.

Extracted from ‘Your Life and Your Choices: Plan Ahead Northern Ireland’ (Link to document) Macmillan Cancer Support and the Public Health Agency, 2013 

Additional Resources

Northern Ireland

This booklet is about some of the ways you can plan ahead and make choices about your future care if you live in Northern Ireland.

This is an online learning module developed by Macmillan Cancer Support which explores the ways you can plan ahead and make choices for your future care. It covers a number of different ways you can plan ahead.

    You may have been asked to help a loved one or friend to plan the end of their life. This is a great honour and responsibility, and preparing in advance will help you to complete it successfully. 

    Advance care planning is a process of discussion between you, your partner, family or friends and depending on your individual circumstances at the time, those who may provide care for you, for example nurses, doctors, care home manager or social worker

    This guide has been produced in response to what people with learning disabilities, their parents and siblings have been asking for years: what is going to happen in the future, and how can we shape it?

    The death of a parent or sibling is one of the most fundamental losses a child will ever face. At Winston’s Wish, we believe that bereaved children need support to make sense of death and rebuild their lives – and that is why we exist.


    Republic of Ireland

    The Think Ahead form is a planning document for use by adults who are well. It aims to guide you in thinking about, discussing, and recording your preferences regarding all aspects of end of life.

    The Let Me Decide website providers an introduction to the Advance Care Directive tool and includes a number of educational videos and resources.

    If you are planning your own funeral or the funeral of a relative or loved one who has died without discussion or planning arrangements then you may find a helpful starting point on this page (Think Ahead website).

    This website explains Enduring Power of Attorney. An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) enables you (the “donor”) to choose a person you trust (called an "attorney") to manage your property and affairs and/or personal care in the event of you becoming mentally incapable of doing so.