Talking about your care

It’s never too soon to think about what you’d like to happen if you get ill, or your health changes. Having conversations with the people close to you helps them too.

There are situations where it’s more important to make plans, such as after being diagnosed with a new illness or being in hospital. But you don’t have to be unwell to start talking about your health and care.

Your family or close friends may need to help make decisions about your treatment and care if you’re very ill. It’s a good idea to talk about how you’d like to be cared for with the people close to you when you are well.

Thinking ahead helps you have better conversations about your care with your doctor, nurse or care worker too.

What matters to you might be different if things change for you. If that happens, you can update any information you’ve given to your care team.

How to talk about your care

When you’re getting ready to talk about your care, there are a few things that are helpful to think about.

People to talk to

Choose who you would like to have these conversations with. Talking with those close to you is a good idea. You could talk to:

  • your partner
  • family members
  • your carer
  • friends
  • your faith or community leader
  • anyone with welfare attorney for you

You could also talk to your care team, for example:

  • your GP
  • nurse
  • consultant
  • physiotherapist or occupational therapist
  • social worker
  • care worker
  • support worker

Getting ready to talk

There are some things you might want to do before you start having care planning conversations. You might choose to:

  • find out more about your health condition
  • find out about the services and support that can help you
  • talk with your GP, nurse or care worker about making a health and care plan – in Scotland this is called future care planning
  • make an appointment with your GP or wait for your next check-up with the hospital to ask about planning your care
  • speak to your care team about your health conditions and any questions or worries you have

It might help to think about the most important things you want those close to you, and your care team, to know about you and what you would like to happen. If it helps, write down 2 or 3 things you want to say or ask.

Places to talk

There’s no one way to have these conversations.

Some people prefer to be at home. You could talk over the phone, or on a video call.

You might choose to talk about your care with family members while your doctor, nurse or care worker is there too. For example, as part of a planned appointment. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and able to talk about what matters to you.

Starting to talk

For many people, the hardest part of talking about planning your care is starting the first conversation. It can also be difficult to know what things are important to cover. There are many ways to get a conversation started.

Talking about your own care

Some ways you could start are:

  • ‘Can we have a chat about something important?’
  • ‘I am not as well as I was, can we talk about that?’
  • ‘I’ve been thinking about what help I might need – can we talk about it?’
  • ‘I’ve been thinking about what we’d do if I get less well’
  • ‘I’m worried about what might happen if I get ill and need help in an emergency, can we talk about that?’

Talking about someone else’s care

It can be more difficult to start talking about someone else’s care. You could say things like:

  • ‘Can we have a chat about something important?’
  • ‘It’s not easy to talk about this but I’ve been thinking about what we’d do if either of us is less well.’
  • ‘I’ve heard that people can have a personal plan in case they need help in an emergency.’
  • ‘I might need to help make decisions for you if you are not well enough so is there anything important for me to know?’

Care at home or in hospital

You can talk about whether you’d like to be cared for at home, in your care home, or in hospital if you become unwell.

It’s important for the people close to you, your care team, and emergency services to know what to do if you are very unwell. Your future care plan can be used to record details about where and how you would like to be cared for. Information about any specific emergency treatment or care for you can be added to your plan. Anything important for care staff to know about you as a person can be in it too.

There are some things you can do to make talking about care easier.

Do

  • take your time – some people need longer to think about their health and care than others
  • have several conversations – most people have more than one
  • remember you can change your mind – care plans can be looked at again and changed at any time

Further information about care planning

Future care planning is where you talk about what matters most when making plans for your care in the future. You can talk about this with those close to you, and your doctor, nurse or care worker. Your care team want to know what’s important when they’re planning treatment and care with you.

Read further information about future care planning

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Your doctor or nurse will talk about CPR if they think making decisions about this treatment is important for you. You can find out about CPR by asking them.

Decisions about CPR

Some people choose to use a document called an advance directive to record information about any treatment or care they do not want. This can be used to guide the care team making decisions about your care if you are not able to speak for yourself.

Read further information about advance directives

There may be financial or legal issues you’d like to talk about, like making a will.

You can choose people close to you to make decisions about your health and care if you’re not able to do that yourself. There’s a legal document called a Power of Attorney for this.

Read further information about legal and practical issues

Last updated:
25 September 2023

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