Advance Care Planning and Advanced Directives

Advance Care Planning calls us to our Values:
Service to the Poor reminds us of our commitment to those who are not only economically poor but spiritually poor, by providing opportunities to talk about their health care hopes, fears, wishes and goals.

Reverence affirms that each person comes to us with a unique story, one that is to be heard and honored. Advance Care Planning calls health care providers to respect each life in order to help patients and families prepare for the end of life.

Integrity confirms that our words and actions should be consistent with our values, that we are honest and address the capabilities and limit of medicine with sincere concern .

Wisdom affirms our commitment to excellence in service and performance improvement. Health care is complex and having been entrusted with the care of those in need, we are asked to seek opportunities to improve care coordination.

Creativity inspires us to seek new approaches, to share our knowledge as well as our challenges, to be supportive to patients, families and colleagues, to be open to new ideas and initiatives with attention to enabling and empowering people to voice their wishes through Advance Care Planning.

Dedication reinforces the meaning of our work with patients and families as well as our role in our communities. Dedication calls us to ensure that Ministry Health Care is aware of patient wishes for end of life care and able to honor those wishes in each care setting.

We often take for granted that when medical decisions need to be made, we will be able to make decisions for ourselves. Yet, many of us will be asked to make medical decisions for our loved ones. Often family members say,
“I wish we would have talked about this, so I would have known what [Mom] wanted.”

Talking about your health care wishes may not be easy, but it will help your family understand what is important to you. It gives you a chance to share your health care wishes with your family and your providers.

Having conversations and completing an advance directive document is often called Advance Care Planning. Advance Care Planning also helps you and your family better understand your health care choices and prepare for the decisions you may face as you live with illness.

Ministry Health Care and Columbia St. Mary’s offer this information to help you discuss your choices and write an Advance Directive. Take some time to review Practical Guide to Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives and the information on this webpage.


What are the goals of Advance Care Planning?

-Guide your health care in a way that fits with your beliefs, values and goals.

-Make sure your wishes are followed even if you are not able to speak for yourself.

-Support relationships between you, your family and your health care providers.

-Lift the stress of difficult decision making on family or friends.


What is an Advance Directive document? 

An Advance Directive is a written instruction that state your choices about future health care decisions.  These documents guide your physicians and loved ones in the event you cannot make health care decisions for yourself.  An Advance Directive makes sure that your beliefs and wishes are known. 


What are the types of Advance Directives documents? 

Power of Attorney for Health Care is a document that allows you to pick one or more persons to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. This person is known as your health care agent. The document offers guidance to your health care agent(s) and health care providers(s) about your treatment preference so they can best honor your wishes.


Power of Attorney for Health Care (English)

Power of Attorney for Health Care (Spanish)

Power of Attorney for Health Care (Hmong)

Power of Attorney for Health Care (Russian)


We also recognize that it may be difficult to know what to discuss with your health care agent or whom to choose as a healthcare agent. Ministry offers a set of questionnaires that may be helpful for you. We hope that when you compare your answers to those of your agent, you will have a better idea of topics to discuss to aid in your decision-making.


Questionnaire – For Patient (English)

Questionnaire – For Patient (Spanish)

Questionnaire – For Patient (Russian)


And your health care agent:

Questionnaire - Health Care Agent (English)

Questionnaire - Health Care Agent (Spanish)

Questionnaire - Health Care Agent (Russian)


Living Will/Declaration to Physicians is document that gives instructions to health care providers about the type of life sustaining care you would want only in the event of a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.

If the Power of Attorney for Health Care document is not the preferred document for you, use the Wisconsin State Living Will (Declaration to Physicians). Please note: this form does not allow you to legally designate a person to make healthcare decisions for you if you are not able.

Community Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order and Bracelet is an order and legal document issued by a physician that communicates to emergency medical technicians (EMTs), first responders or emergency department staff that a qualified patient has decided he/she does not wish to be resuscitated. A qualified patient is an adult who has a terminal condition or would suffer pain or harm from resuscitation or for whom resuscitation would be unsuccessful. The form must be signed by the patient (or guardian or POAHC agent) and the physician AND a bracelet with must be worn by the patient to signify to emergency personnel they do not want resuscitation.


For more information, obtain a form by clicking on the link below:
Wisconsin Do Not Resuscitate Information
Wisconsin Do Not Resuscitate Order form (pdf)


Additional Resources 

Demographic Change Form

If you or your agents move or change phone numbers, please use the Demographic Change Form to update the information. Once completed please give a copy to your providers and or your local hospital.

Wisconsin Catholic Conference Addendum to POAHC Form

In March of 2014, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference offered an addendum for a patient’s advance directive from the Catholic perspective. It is important to note that this addendum is merely that, an addendum. It is not an advance directive itself. This addendum is designed for use with a Power for Attorney Health Care document like the one found on this web page. We share in the Bishops’ reminder that vital conversations need to occur between loved ones and that no tool can replace that.


Catholic Health Association Advance Directives Booklet: A Guide to Help You Express your Health Care Wishes

Now and at the Hour of Our Death – Wisconsin Catholic Conference

UW Madison Body and Tissue Donation information

Medical College of Wisconsin Body Donation information

Heart Rhythm Society Position on Deactivation of Implantable Cardiac Devices

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services 

If you or a loved one is in need of palliative support, please talk with your clinician about our Palliative Care services.

Inpatient palliative care is available at these locations:


CaringBridge is a nonprofit offering many ways for people to care for each other during any type of health event.

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