An advance care directive – is a clear statement that sets out the patient's directions including his/her wishes and values that need to be considered before medical treatment decisions are made on his/her behalf. If the patient has capacity to make these directions, advance care directives can also record his/her preferences to have as the goals of any medical intervention if he/she cannot communicate a later time.
An advance care plan – is a process to help the patient plan the medical care in advance so if he/she become too unwell to make decisions, his/her wishes can still be respected by the health care team, the family and carers. An important part of this is discussing these wishes with family and health professionals, and identifying who would be his/her substitute decision maker. In the event that the patient became unwell and are no longer able to speak the substitute decision maker is able to act on the advice he/she 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.