Your wishes for your care

Planning ahead can help if you become unable to make a decision about your care yourself. It means your family and healthcare team can know and carry out your wishes as far as possible.

You can use the Record of my wishes form to write down your wishes.

Before writing down your wishes, you may want to talk through your plans with your family, a close friend and a healthcare professional.

When recording your wishes, you may want to include:

  • where you would like to be cared for
  • what kind of care you would like
  • who you would like to be involved in your care.

Your health or social care team may keep a copy. You should also keep a copy in a safe place and let people looking after you know where it is. It is important to review your wishes and keep them up to date.

Your wishes can be made available to all health and social care professionals involved, if they are recorded on an Advance Care Planning Summary. Your GP can tell you more.


Can you spare 5 minutes to help us improve our advanced care planning information?
Please fill in our advanced care planning information survey.

Thinking about how you would like to be cared for

As part of planning ahead, it is important to think about how and where you would like to be cared for. This is in case your health changes and you become unable to tell other people what you want to happen.

Writing down your wishes and preferences means that your family and health or social care professionals will know how you would like to be cared for. You can use the Record of my wishes form to write down your wishes.

These statements about your preferences are not legally binding. But they will be helpful for health or social care professionals when they make decisions about your care.

Before you write down your wishes and preferences, it may help to talk through your plans with your family or a close friend. This can be particularly helpful if you want them to:

  • be involved in your care
  • make decisions on your behalf.

You should also talk through your plans with one or two of the health and social care professionals looking after you.

It is also important to discuss whether your wishes are realistic. If they are not realistic, try to think of some other options. For example, you may prefer to die at home, but have no family members or close friends able to support you there. So it may be more realistic for you to be cared for in a care home, hospital or hospice.

It may not always be possible for your wishes and preferences to be met at the time when you become less well. For example, you may want to be cared for at home by a family member, but if they become ill or too tired, they may not be able to look after you. In this case, health or social care professionals may be able to arrange care for you so you can stay at home. If this is not possible, they will plan for you to receive the best possible care somewhere else. This might be in a care home, hospital or hospice.


What to include in your wishes for your care

As much as possible, you should include anything that is important to you. If you are worried about a particular part of your care, you can make a plan for what you would like and write this down. You could include the following:

  • Where you would like to be cared for when you can no longer look after yourself. For example, this could be at home or in a hospital, care home or hospice.
  • Where you would like to be cared for when you are dying. For example, at home or in a hospital, care home or hospice.
  • What kind of care and treatments you would like (you cannot demand particular treatments).
  • Information about specific spiritual or religious practices that you would like to be carried out or reflected in your care.
  • Who you would like to be involved in your care. For example, family or close friends.
  • The person or people you would most like to be asked to make decisions about your care if you are unable to make them yourself.
  • Who you would like to look after any pets.
  • Whether you would like someone to tell you how serious your condition is and what might happen in the future.


Writing down your wishes for your care

You can use the Record of my wishes document to write down your wishes. Once you have completed the document, you should share it with anyone who is, or is likely to be, involved in your care. This may include:

  • a family member
  • a close friend
  • a health or social care professional, such as your GP, nurse, social worker or hospital doctor.

If you are admitted or transferred to a hospital or hospice, take your document with you. This will let the staff know your wishes and preferences for your care.

Your health or social care team may keep a copy for their records. You should also keep a copy in a safe place and let people involved in your care know where it is.

It is important to regularly review your wishes and keep them up to date. You can change your mind at any time. Remember, you will need to make sure you record your changes.

You will also need to let your family and health and social care professionals know, and give them an updated copy of the document.

An example of some information that may be in a Record of my wishes form

Your preferences and priorities
In relation to your health, what has been happening to you?
My doctors have told me that I’m now only receiving care to control my symptoms. Curing my illness is no longer possible.
What are your preferences and priorities for your future care?
If I were to become less well, I’d like my wife to be involved in making decisions about my care and I’d like to be kept fully informed about what’s happening to me.
Where would you like to be cared for in the future?
I don’t mind where I am cared for as long as my family are close by.
Signed Johnny FinneganDate 24.04.16


Advance Care Planning Summary

If you would like your wishes for future care to be available to all health and social care professionals involved, it is important to tell your GP. They can record and communicate this information in a document called an Advance Care Planning Summary.

Below is an example of how an Advance Care Planning Summary can be helpful.

An example of an Advance Care Planning Summary in action

‘Even though my Dad had been ill for several years we’d never discussed what would happen at the end of his life. Following his death, our family regretted not having those discussions and my Mum, Annie, was keen to ensure things were better planned and hopefully easier for my brother and I when her time came.

Mum had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years previously and although her health was stable she wanted to be prepared for the future. Over the following weeks, we talked with each other, with her health and social care professionals and with our solicitor. We noted some of her preferences and things important to her in the Record of my wishes and Mum arranged with her solicitor for me to be her Enduring Power of Attorney.

Mum was clear that she didn’t want us to give up our lives to care for her, she didn’t want to be resuscitated, and if possible she would like to stay in her own bed. She also expressed a fear of being in pain at the end.

As her Parkinson’s progressed and her health began to deteriorate Mum moved into a nursing home, where her GP visited her and together we recorded her wishes for her future care on an Advance Care Planning Summary.

Mum lived in the nursing home for just over two years, where I visited her every day. During that time, Mum was also diagnosed with dementia and was prone to infections and falls. The staff were great and always aimed to treat Mum in the nursing home to try and avoid admissions to hospital. That was because taking Mum away from the nursing home environment made her agitated and scared.

My Mum’s final deterioration was quick, over the course of a weekend. On the Sunday afternoon it was apparent that she was in pain, so the out-of-hours GP was called. He initially suggested sending her to hospital. However, after reviewing her Advance Care Planning Summary he was able to arrange appropriate pain relief in the nursing home.

My Mum passed away peacefully several hours later in her own bed. I was holding her hand. Following her death, I’ve taken great comfort from knowing that we were able to care for mum how she had wanted in her final days.’

Diane, Annie’s daughter.

Back to Advance care planning in Northern Ireland

Planning ahead

Planning ahead can help people know what care you would like if you become unable to make choices yourself.

Making a will

Having an up-to-date will ensures that your wishes for who you would like to leave your estate to are guaranteed.

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) allows you to choose other people to make decisions on your behalf.

Funeral planning

Planning your funeral in advance means your family and friends can arrange the type of funeral you would like.