Anticipatory Care Planning is just good self management

The new National Anticipatory Care Plan (ACP) materials were launched in Edinburgh last week but what can does anticipatory care planning mean in relation to self management?

Work has been going on around ACP for over ten years and prior to the recent launch event I was invited to meet the ACP Team to talk about how we can spread the message of ACP nationally, that message being ‘ACP is everyone’s business’. While reading up on the plan guidance it became apparent that individuals who complete an ACP are actively self managing. ACP is about thinking ahead and understanding your own health and this helps you to make choices about the future which is why I am keen to stay involved in these conversation and spreading the word.

It’s important to point out that an ACP is not legally binding but for me it’s about addressing questions around ‘what matters to you’ and planning for the future to enable you to receive care the way you would like. It may be a scary thought to think about planning for the future and possibly end of life but reading through the plan makes it feel personal and more of a conversation. Questions include “what is important in my life just now”, this aligns with the principals of self management about looking at the whole person and becoming the leading partner in the management of your own health.

It’s not all about end of life and plans doesn’t need to be completed in one go, this is a tool to develop and continually update as you see fit. Work is still ongoing about when individuals should be prompted to complete an ACP but anyone at any age may benefit from it. It can be started at any stage of a person’s care. Currently, the focus is on ensuring that people with more complex needs receive support that is co-ordinated, suits their care needs, and is informed by their choices and circumstances but that doesn’t mean you can’t start these conversations with health and social care professionals yourself. This guide is to empower you in decisions around your health and be better prepared for the future.

From a personal perspective I wish I had this plan when it came to caring for my Dad. I can see how it could have acted as a buffer when having slightly awkward conversations. I never actually knew how to approach questions surrounding end of life with my Dad and this would have been a way in.

What’s next?

Moving forward, my wish for ACP is that it is widely known about and individuals are not always reliant on health and social care professionals prompting conversations to complete the plan but that individuals recognise the importance of the plan and actively ask to start the process. I hope that third sector organisations will play a role in completing plans with individuals – including volunteers who may see an individual more than any health and social care professional. Together I hope that ACP becomes the norm in peoples care and support planning.

Get in touch

Do you have a wish for ACP? The self management team would be keen to know your experiences of ACP…have you got one already in place or would you find one useful? Get in touch direct by emailing


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