An advance care directive – is a clear statement that sets out the patient's directions including their wishes and values that need to be considered before medical treatment decisions are made on their behalf. If the patient has capacity to make these directions, advance care directives can also record their preferences regarding the goals of any medical intervention if they cannot communicate a later time.
An advance care plan – is a process to help the patient plan medical care in advance, so that if they become too unwell to make decisions, their wishes can still be respected by the healthcare team, the family, and carers. An important part of the plan is discussing these wishes with family and health professionals, and identifying a substitute decision maker. In the event that the patient becomes unwell and is no longer able to speak, the substitute decision maker is able to act on the advice the patient provided them. The advance care plan should be used by the substitute decision maker and by the carers and health care team to adhere to the patient's values and wishes.