Advance Care Planning

You have the right to make informed decisions about your health care. It is also your right to keep information private, to assign a patient advocate and to determine what kind of treatment you do or do not want to pursue. Advance Care Planning is the process of thinking about and planning for a time when you may, with or without warning, become unable to make decisions regarding your medical care. This process is very important as it will help your doctors, care team and loved ones better understand your wishes, while providing you with the best care possible. Advance Care Planning has become a national movement, and is important for each and every person regardless of their age, health status, diagnosis, prognosis, etc.

The process of Advance Care Planning starts with a facilitated discussion between the patient and their advocate, along with any other loved ones they choose to invite to attend. This discussion usually results in the creation of a document known as an advance directive. An advance directive is a written guide meant to provide instructions regarding the care you wish to receive should you become unable to make decisions for yourself. An advance directive also allows you to assign a patient advocate, which is an individual you appoint to carry out these instructions should the need arise (you are also able to appoint alternate advocates). It is important to note that you remain fully in control of all decision making until you become physically or mentally unable to do so, as determined by a doctor. It is also important to know that advance directives can be changed or modified at any time. In fact, it is necessary to review this document at regular intervals in order to ensure it remains accurate and reflective of your goals, values, and wishes.

We strongly encourage all of our patients to participate in an Advance Care Planning session, even if they’ve already completed an advance directive elsewhere. If you are interested in doing so, please contact a member of our social work team. All of our social workers are certified Advance Care Planning facilitators who can assist you in having this discussion with your loved ones, creating an advance directive, and answering any questions you may have.


You can contact our offices at the following numbers to request and be scheduled for an Advance Care Planning appointment:

  • Holland Center: (616) 399-6500
  • Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion:  (616) 954-9800
  • Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Lacks Cancer Center:  (616) 685-5600
  • The Johnson Family Cancer Center (Muskegon):  (231) 737-3469