Advance Care Planning

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we have certified facilitators for advance care planning to help you through the process. We encourage you to talk with your doctors and family about your personal goals for care, the kind of life you want to live, and your wishes about life-prolonging procedures.

What is advance care planning?

It is the process of anticipating and planning for your future healthcare needs in the event you have a serious injury or illness and are not able to make your own healthcare decisions. It involves thinking about how you would want to live your life in such a situation, and what steps should be taken on your behalf to support your healthcare wishes. It includes talking with your doctors so they can give guidance for your personal situation. It also includes sharing your wishes with your loved ones so they will be able to respect and support them. An important part of advance care planning is preparing advance directives

What are advance directives?

They are prior oral statements and written documents about your healthcare wishes that will be used in the event you are not able to participate in healthcare decision-making about your own care. To avoid misunderstanding, it is best to write down your wishes. In Florida, there are three main types of written advance directives:

  • Healthcare Surrogate — This document identifies the trusted person you want to represent you, by making the healthcare decisions you would want, when you are not able to make your own decisions. This could be for a short period of time, or possibly permanently.
  • Living Will — This document describes how you want to live, and the kinds of treatments you would want, if you have a permanent brain injury or disease, or you are close to death because of a serious illness. It will only be used if your condition cannot be cured, getting better is not possible, and you are not able to make your own healthcare decisions.
  • Durable Power of Attorney — This document is typically prepared by an attorney as part of estate planning. It can include your healthcare directives by naming an agent who can legally represent you, as well as your wishes for medical treatment, if you are not able to make your own decisions

Who should participate in advance care planning?

All adults, no matter what age, healthy or not, who want to maintain a sense of wellness and dignity throughout their lives should take responsibility to prepare for their future healthcare needs.

How do I start my own advance care planning?

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the social work and chaplaincy care office at 813-745-8407. Information is also available in the Patient Library and Welcome Center on the second floor of the Muriel Rothman Building.

Content for this story is from PARTNERS winter 2015 (pdf), a newsletter of the Patient and Family Advisory Program.