Advanced Care Planning

Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication that helps individuals and families to prepare for future health care decisions. Defining what matters most to you, including at the end of life, helps guide decisions in an emergency.

Download a UC Davis Health Advance Health Care Directive here

Advance Care Planning Steps

Step 1. Reflect and converse about your values and goals.

Resources to support reflection and conversation:

Step 2. Choose a health care agent.

Your health care agent would help make health care decisions, if you were unable to make them for yourself. Your health care agent should be someone who:

  • Knows you well and can help your medical team understand your priorities
  • You trust to follow your wishes and do what is best for you
  • Can be reached in an emergency
  • Is at least 18 years old

It is important to talk with your health care agent to make sure they agree to this role and understand what is most important to you. Bringing your health care agent to one or more of your important medical visits can prepare them to help you best in an emergency.

For more information about selecting a health care agent (also known as a "proxy"), see the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California's "Choosing a Healthcare Agent".

Step 3. Write down your choices.

An Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document that allows you to designate your health care agent and write down health care instructions.
UC Davis Health Advance Health Care Directive

For an alternative, longer-form Advance Health Care Directive available in multiple languages, see Prepare for Your Care.
For more information about completing an Advance Health Care Directive in California, visit the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

What about “POLST”?

A POLST (Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) form is an additional form that provides medical orders to first responders in the event of an emergency. People with serious illness or with chronic, progressive illness should consider completing a POLST form, together with their health care provider. The POLST form complements an Advance Health Care Directive and does not replace it.

For more information about POLST, see POLST California

Three good reasons to do advance care planning:

  1. Have a say in crucial health care decisions about you, in the event that you become unable to make your own decisions due to serious illness or injury.
  2. Make sure the person you choose to make decisions on your behalf has the authority they need in an emergency.
  3. Lessen the burden of decision-making for your loved ones, giving them the gift of knowing what matters most to you at the end of life.

For help with advance care planning:

Call us today!

Please call 916-734-5959 and ask for an oncology social worker or ask your doctor or nurse for a referral.

For more resources, please visit the Patient and Family Learning Center