The experts at the
Torrance Memorial Palliative Care Program provide patients and families who are coping with serious illness with
comprehensive advance care planning resources and assistance.
What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance care planning allows you to plan for and make decisions about your
future healthcare while sharing your goals and preferences with your physicians
and loved ones. It also enables you to learn about the types of care decisions
that might be required at a later date, so you can consider your care
options in advance.
After you consider your options, you can let your family members and healthcare
providers know about your preferences using legal documents that only
take effect if you are unable to speak for yourself. You can designate
who will speak for you if you are too ill to speak for yourself and indicate
your wishes about what types of healthcare you would like to receive.
What are the Benefits of Advance Care Planning?
Although many people mistakenly assume that advance care planning is only
for people who are elderly or dying, the truth is that it is beneficial
for everyone — including healthy, younger adults. Even if you aren’t
sick, advance care planning allows you to make decisions about your healthcare
now, in case you become too ill to express your wishes later.
If you are living with a serious illness, advance care planning helps you
understand your options so you can make informed decisions that may provide
you with a sense of control and comfort. It may also reduce worry, fear,
and anxiety about what will happen if you are no longer able to speak
Advance care planning also benefits caregivers. Not only does it help them
understand your wishes in advance and prepare accordingly, but it also
outlines your wishes in writing — clearly and legally — which
can prevent future conflict between family members and healthcare providers.
What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?
An Advance Healthcare Directive is a legal document that only becomes effective
if you are unable to speak for yourself or become unable to make your
own treatment decisions. Through an Advance Healthcare Directive, you
can designate someone to speak on your behalf and determine which treatments
you want or do not want.
In California, the part of an Advance Directive used to appoint a person
to make healthcare decisions for you is called a Power of Attorney for
Healthcare. The part where you can express your wishes for future medical
treatment is called an Individual Healthcare Instruction. As long as you
are over the age of 18 and capable of making your own medical decisions,
you can complete an Advance Healthcare Directive. You do not need a lawyer.
You can use the form below to choose someone to speak for you — also
called a healthcare agent — and indicate your wishes for medical
treatment. Once your Advance Directive has been properly signed and witnessed,
give copies to your healthcare representative, physician, and hospital
Need help or more information about Advance Directives?
If you need additional assistance with completing an Advance Healthcare
Directive or if you have questions, Torrance Memorial’s Palliative
Care team members are here for you. You can access our advance care planning
- Making an appointment at our Care Coordination Center for a one-on-one
- Attending our Advance Healthcare Directive workshop
You can access additional information and resources on advance care planning at
PREPARE for your care and the
Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.
What is POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment)?
The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) is a medical
order signed by a patient and his or her healthcare providers —
including a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant —
that specifies the types of end-of-life medical treatment the patient
wishes to receive. This form is included in the patient’s medical
chart. It helps to reduce patient and family suffering by ensuring that
the patient’s wishes are honored by his or her healthcare providers.
It also prevents unwanted and ineffective medical treatment.
If you are living with a serious illness, our skilled team of palliative
care professionals can help you decide if POLST is the right choice for
you. You can also talk to your physician about POLST, or visit
POLST California for additional information and resources. Click on the link below to download the form.
For more information about the Palliative Care Program or Advance Care
Planning, please call 310-784-4880.