Advance Care Planning

Speak For Yourself, Plan Your Care

advanced-care-planningEvery adult has the right to decide what medical care they think is best for them. Planning your care ahead of time allows others to honor your choices even if you are unable to speak for yourself at any time. Advance care planning (ACP) lets you choose someone to be your advocate (speak for you) and tell healthcare providers what to do for you.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is a process that helps you think about, understand, and talk about your healthcare choices with others important to you. This type of planning will help your family, loved ones, and caregivers when you cannot speak for yourself. Making a plan that meets your needs means that others will not have to guess what they should do for you. Download an ACP overview or the full ACP packet including all forms.

What is an advance directive for health care?

Advance directives (AD) are written directions based on your planning that allows you to give specific, written instructions to healthcare providers and loved ones about how much, or how little, medical treatment you would like to receive if you are unable to make decisions for yourself later on. The advance directive will guide your patient advocate, loved ones, and your caregivers when you cannot speak for yourself. Advance directives let you maintain control over your future medical treatments. While Lakeland supports and encourages your right to an advance directive, lack of an advance directive does not hamper access to care.

Advance directive information is offered upon admission, and is available at any time during your stay. All patients who are admitted to Lakeland are asked about their wishes – no matter what kind of procedure they’re having. Examples of advance directives include: durable power of attorney for healthcare and living wills.

To download a complimentary copy of the advance directive for health care please click here. For a Spanish version please click here. Also provided is an advance care planning packet that includes an advance directive, and takes a more in-depth look at your values and wishes. 

What is a facilitator?

Facilitators are people who are trained to help you identify what is important to you, help you make decisions about your future health care, and help you put your plan in writing. Your decisions may change over time so it is helpful to review your plan yearly or as needed if you are diagnosed with a serious illness or have a sudden serious brain injury.

The facilitator is skilled to help you clarify your personal values, beliefs, and preferences for end of life care. The meeting moves at your own pace, and there is no pressure to influence your treatment preferences. To request a facilitated ACP conversation please call (269) 983-8166 or e-mail or fill out our online referral form.

What is a patient advocate?

Patient advocates are picked by you, and are named in your advance directive. Choosing someone as your patient advocate means you trust this person to make difficult decisions and carry out your wishes.  This person accepts the role of making your health care decisions if you are unable. Patient advocates are named in a specific type of document called a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. Naming your patient advocate and declaring your instructions for future health care needs completes your advance directive. Download patient advocate guide.

What else do I need to know?

Below are some links to additional material that can help you make informed decisions

  • Tips For Starting a Conversation – Discussing your wishes with your loved ones is so important, but it can be hard to get started. This list of ideas will help you ease into the conversation.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – An information sheet about the advantages of ACP that you can share with people you would like to have conversations with.
  • Patient Advocate Guide – You will need to choose someone you trust to speak for you when you can’t speak for yourself. This is an important decision, and a big responsibility. This information sheet will help you determine who to choose, and talk through what would be expected of that person.
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – CPR is not the same as what we all see on television. Get the facts here, so you can make a decision that is right for you.
  • Mechanical Breathing – Learn what you need to know about ventilators, when and how they are used, and what you should think about when making your decisions.
  • Tube Feeding – Get the facts about when tube feeding is helpful, when it isn’t, and what options are available to you.

Make Your Choices Knows

National Healthcare Decisions Day, which is observed on April 16, encourages people to understand the value of advance care planning (ACP). Southwest Michigan’s ACP program Speak for Yourself, Plan Your Care is a collaboration of community partners that offers the opportunity for individuals to discuss their healthcare wishes with certified ACP facilitators.

During the month of April, take advantage of this community program and take a step forward with your plan, wherever you are starting from:

  1. Pick up a free advance directive and educational information from a location below
  2. Schedule a conversation with a facilitator to discuss what’s most important to you as you begin your plan
  3. If you have an advance directive in place, review it with a facilitator to make sure it still reflects your wishes
  4. When you are comfortable with your advance directive, provide copies to your advocates and family so they are prepared to be your voice if something happens 5. Provide a copy of your advance directive to the admissions department of your local hospital for placement in your electronic medical chart, so it’s easy to find in an emergency

Advance care planning resources are available at the following locations: Area Agency on Aging, Region IV, Berecz & Associates, Caring Circle, St. Joseph, Cass Family Clinic, Coloma Medical Center, Community Medical Center Watervliet, Lakeland Care Network, Benton Harbor, Lakeland Primary Care, Longmeadow, Lakeland Medical Practices, Watervliet, Lakeside Healthcare Specialists, Niles Public Library, PACE of southwest Michigan, Southwestern Medical Clinic, all locations, Stagg Medical Center, Strong Women of Faith, and West Woods of Niles

For more information on ACP call (269) 983-8166 or email

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