Anticipatory care planning is about conversations between you, the people closest to you, and your care team – for example, your GP, nurse or consultant. These conversations should be about your wishes for your health and wellbeing if you become unwell.
Your wishes and decisions can then be entered in an Anticipatory Care Plan (ACP).
Anticipatory care planning during the COVID-19 pandemic
People of all ages, who are living with a variety of health conditions, have ACPs. Making a plan helps you communicate what would matter to you if you fell ill during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By having these conversations and making an ACP with your health and care team, you can make informed choices about the type of care you’d like to receive if you need medical treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your ACP will be added to your health records for use if you become unwell.
To limit the spread of COVID-19, hospitals and community care teams are taking a number of safety measures, such as limiting the number of visitors a patient can have in hospital. This means in some cases, your healthcare team may be unable to fulfil every part of your care plan. However, every effort will be made to respect your wishes and the wishes of those closest to you.
Who should make an ACP during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If you’re at extremely high risk of severe illness it’s important to start having conversations about an ACP and your wishes if you fell ill.
You may also benefit from an ACP if:
- you’re aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- you’re under 70 with an underlying health condition, including anyone given the flu vaccination each year on medical grounds
Read a full list of underlying health conditions
An ACP can help:
- ensure both your care team and the people closest to you know your wishes if you become unwell during the COVID-19 pandemic
- manage any changes to your health in an organised way
- prevent confusion about what matters to you
- reduce worry
- promote quality of life
If you’re discussing your ACP with your care team, this may have to be done over the phone or via a video call. This is because of necessary safety measures being taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your GP practice can tell you about the different options for having this conversation.
If you received a letter about planning your care
You may have received a letter from the Government advising that as you have an underlying health condition you’re at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
After you’ve received this letter, someone from your care team will be in touch as soon as possible to make sure you’ve understood the information, and discuss your options for creating an ACP or making changes to an existing one.
The conversation should focus on how they can support you, and how to record what matters to you if you fall ill with COVID-19.
Having conversations about care planning can be difficult – it might involve talking about end-of-life care, or how you feel about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Any conversation about your wishes should be carried out in a sensitive way.
Before you talk to your care team, it’s a good idea to start having these conversations with those closest to you, so you can give your care team as much information as possible.
Watch a video about care planning and conversations
If you haven’t received a letter
It would be worthwhile to start having these conversations with those closest to you, if possible.
If you’re in a high-risk group and you’d like to consider making an ACP, contact your care team – for example, your consultant, nurse or GP.
If you don’t have an ACP
Your care team will explain the purpose of an ACP and suggest you discuss what you would like to happen if you fall ill during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll support you to have this conversation, and agree and record your wishes so they can be shared with your health and care team.
It can be difficult to start conversations about care planning with the people closest to you – discussing things like end-of-life care and your wishes about CPR can be emotional and challenging. However, if you do become seriously ill, it’s reassuring for both you and those closest to you to have a record of your wishes and what matters to you most.
If you already have an ACP
If you already have an ACP, it can be changed if you like. A member of your care team can contact your GP practice to ensure your health records are updated. This ensures the ACP stays up to date.
COVID-19 and your ACP
To limit the spread of COVID-19, hospitals and community care teams are taking a number of safety measures, such as limiting the number of visitors a patient can have in hospital. This means in some individual cases, it may not be possible to fulfil every part of your care plan. However, your healthcare team will discuss your ACP with you and can advise on the best options for your situation. Every effort will be made to respect your wishes and the wishes of those closest to you.
If this has an effect on what you’d like to put in your ACP, discuss it with your care team.
Talking about your care
Even if you’re in good health, it’s important to talk to those closest to you about your wishes for future care, and the decisions you’d want to be made if you fell ill.
Read our advice for having conversations about care