April 16 is National Advance Care Planning Day

(Ottawa, ON) – Sure, your Facebook status is interesting. But what about your health care status?

April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day, a day to share your wishes for future health care, and to name a Substitute Decision Maker, someone who can speak for you if you couldn’t speak for yourself. It can mean the difference between the care you want and the care you might receive.

An Advance Care Plan can help you describe what would be important for you if you were ill and unable to communicate – such as the kind of care you would want to receive, the medical procedures that you may or may not want or fears you may have.

Louise Hanvey, the Director of the Advance Care Planning in Canada Initiative, says that advance care planning is for everyone – and Facebook is an excellent way to share the importance of planning with family and friends. “Your health status can change at any moment,” she says. “It’s important to make your sure your voice can still be heard.”

The Initiative recommends 5 steps for completing an advance care plan:
1. THINK about what’s important to you
2. LEARN about different medical procedures and what they can or can’t do
3. DECIDE on a substitute decision maker – someone who is willing and able to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself
4. TALK about your wishes with your loved ones
5. RECORD your wishes – write them down or make a recording

The Initiative’s Speak Up website (www.advancecareplanning.ca) has a number of resources, including workbooks, information about medical procedures, videos, wallet cards and conversation starters to help Canadians make their plan.

On April 16th – National Advance Care Planning Day, the Initiative is asking Canadians to make a plan, and let others know by posting “I’ve made a plan – have you? #ACPday2015” on their Facebook page. The Initiative will also be posting videos and information kits to share, and organizations across Canada will be holding events to mark the day.

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For more information about advance care planning, related research or to arrange interviews with ACP experts, contact: Tamir Virani at 1-800-668-27851-800-668-2785 ext. 229 or by email at: TVirani@bruyere.org.

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is a national, bilingual charitable non-profit association with membership comprised of individuals and hospice palliative care programs and services from every province and territory. The CHPCA is a member of the National Advance Care Planning Task Group, comprised of representatives from a number of organizations and professions across Canada. The Task Group has collaborated to develop Advance Care Planning in Canada: A National Framework and Implementation and the Speak Up campaign.

The Harris/Decima survey was conducted for The Way Forward, a three-year initiative launched in 2012 and funded by the Government of Canada. The Way Forward seeks to change how Canada thinks about and approaches aging, chronic, serious and life limiting illness and dying; and how to extend the benefits of hospice palliative and end-of-life care, and advance care planning, to as many Canadians as possible. Tapping into palliative care knowledge and expertise across Canada, The Way Forward is focused on fostering collaboration between provincial and territorial governments, regional health authorities, agencies, clinicians and service providers, among others to improve quality of life, reduce emergency visits and hospitalizations, and make more effective use of health system resources.