A serious illness or accident can happen to anyone at any age. Advance care planning is a communication process with your doctors and loved ones. Advance care planning can also inform how you complete your health care directive, living will or power of attorney for health care. These forms help you document decisions about your health care in case you become ill or injured or can no longer speak for yourself. Completing your advance directives is one of the best ways to make sure that your family, friends and doctors know about and follow your health care choices.
An advance directive is a combination of two legal documents called:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (DPOA-HC): This form lets you name a health care agent. A health care agent is someone who can make decisions about your care, including decisions about life support, if you can no longer speak for yourself. If you do not designate your health care agent, Washington state law will assign one for you.
- Health Care Directive: This form expresses your wishes in writing regarding your medical care, including decisions about life support if you cannot speak for yourself – for instance, if you are in a coma. Having written instructions can help reduce confusion or disagreement among your family members or health care providers. Your family and doctors are required by law to follow the instructions in your health care directive.
You can complete either just the DPOA-HC or the combined Health Care Directive/DPOA-HC. The combined form takes more time to complete as it lets you name your health care agent and describe what treatment you would want, in the event that you have a serious accident or illness and cannot speak for yourself.
Once you have filled out the forms you want, give photocopies of the signed original to your health care agent(s), physician(s), lawyer, family, close friends, clergy, and anyone else who might become involved in your health care.
To get your completed documents uploaded to your SCCA/UWMC electronic medical record, please give a copy to any member of your medical team.
For your convenience, SCCA provides complimentary notarization of your advance care planning documents in the Patient and Family Resource Center located on the 3rd floor of the South Lake Union clinic. Please call the resource center to make an appointment: (206) 606-2081.
If you have questions or need guidance in preparing your advance care planning documents, please call our SCCA Supportive Care Services at (206) 606-1076 and a staff member will be glad to assist you or connect you with your clinic social worker.