Talking About Advance Care Planning

While sudden changes in your life, such as you or a loved one being involved in an accident or becoming seriously ill, can be hard to prepare for emotionally, there are ways to ensure that you receive the type of compassionate care you want – when you need it most.

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC) encourages you to talk to your loved ones now about your wishes for medical care and treatment in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. Planning ahead for future medical needs is the best way to ensure that your wishes will be respected.

If you’re not sure how to have these difficult conversations, don’t know where to begin or what form to use, here are some resources that can assist you:

Consumer Resources

Talking about Advance Care Planning

Conversation Guide

Conversation Guide
This guide offers suggestions on how to raise the issue, responses to concerns your loved one might express and questions to ask.

Finding Your Way: Medical Decisions When They Count Most

For those who are starting the advance care planning process or considering whether to initiate or withdraw life sustaining treatment. Also available in Spanish.
Order in bulk from CCCC’s online store.

Go Wish Cards

An easy, entertaining way to think and talk about what’s important to you if you become seriously ill.
Order in bulk from CCCC’s online store or play Go Wish online.

Mrs. Lee’s Story

Mrs. Lee’s Story

An introduction to end-of-life issues that concern Chinese elders and their families. Brochure includes both Chinese and English text.
Order in bulk from CCCC’s online store.

The Conversation Project Starter Kit

There’s also a toolkit offered through The Conversation Project that includes resources and tips for getting your thoughts together before having the conversation.

Group Discussion Guide
Talking it Over
Talking it Over is a guide to facilitating discussion among informal groups – such as congregations, community organizations, classes or senior groups – to explore personal views about end-of-life care. Though this discussion guide can be used by experienced facilitators and healthcare professionals, it is designed and written so that anyone can use it.
Advance Directive Forms

Take Note: Change in law may affect advance directives notarized after Jan. 1, 2015

Advance Directive FAQs

Answers to the most common questions about Advance HealthCare Directives.

Advance Health Care Directives FAQ web page
Advance HealthCare Directives FAQ PDF

Advance HealthCare Directives FAQ translated into Spanish PDF

Advance Healthcare Directives Factsheet

There are a number of forms and resources available to help you and your loved ones document your wishes for end-of-life care, and to designate a surrogate decision-maker in the event that you are unable to advocate for yourself. You can learn more about Advance Healthcare Directives in the downloadable factsheets below:

Basic Advance Directive

Available in English, Spanish, or Chinese, this form enables you to give instructions about your own healthcare treatment, your end-of-life wishes, and to appoint a healthcare power of attorney.

Easy to Read Advance Directive

Written in plain language, this form is intended to be read and understood easily, even by those who are unable to grasp complex legal language or have limited reading skills. The form is available in the following languages:

With Words, Pictures and Symbols

Thinking Ahead is an advance directive workbook and DVD created by CCCC. This advance directive contains words, symbols and pictures that facilitate discussion and decision-making regarding values, goals and treatment preferences at the end of life. The video serves as an instruction manual, containing vignettes that illustrate in simple, graphic format the purpose and use of the materials.

Although it was originally developed for use by persons with developmental disabilities, Thinking Ahead has proven to be a useful tool for all persons in need of articulating treatment preferences at the end of life. Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean. Learn more about all of the Thinking Ahead materials.

American Bar Association Advance Directive

Giving Someone a Power of Attorney for your Health Care: A Guide with an Easy-to-Use, Legal Form for All Adults. Free.

Five Wishes

Available through Aging with Dignity, this easy-to-use, plain-language workbook helps you express your wishes for end-of-life care in a living will that meets the legal requirements in most states. $5.00 per copy.

Advance Healthcare Directive Kit

Available through the California Medical Association in English and Spanish. $6.00 per kit.

Out-of-State Advance Directive Forms

Available through Caring Connections, this site offers state-specific advance directive forms for download.

Healthcare Agents or Surrogate Decision Makers

Choosing a Healthcare Agent

Choosing A Healthcare Agent
This simple guide helps you determine what to consider when you are selecting a healthcare agent to make decisions you would if you were able.

Choosing A Healthcare Agent translated into Spanish

Help for Healthcare Agents

Help for Healthcare Agents
Making medical decisions for your loved one can be a challenge. This easy-to-read companion piece is here to help you serve as a healthcare agent.

Help for Healthcare Agents translated into Spanish

Resources for Healthcare Providers
California’s Health Care Decisions Law Fact Sheet
This fact sheet is an overview of some of the key elements of the Health Care Decisions Law of 2000. Additional details can be obtained through the resources listed at the end.

Guide for Assessing Medical Decision‐Making Capacity
The patient with decision-making capacity is the appropriate decision-maker unless the patient has delegated that authority to another.

Determining the Appropriate Decision-Maker
Decision making capacity will be determined by the primary physician or supervising health care provider unless the patient has directed that another make that determination in a written advance directive. Capacity may vary and the patient may have capacity for some decisions and not for others. Patients should be allowed to make as many of the health care decisions as possible.

Helpful Phrases for Having the POLST Conversation / Frases útiles para usar en las conversaciones sobre POLST
This guide walks healthcare providers through the most commonly used phrases in walking a patient and family through conversations about the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form (POLST). The guide includes phrases and questions in English and Spanish.

Professional Resources