April 16 is National Advance Care Planning Day

(Ottawa, ON) – Most of us instinctively put on our seatbelts when we get into a car. And we know it’s a good idea to put on a helmet before getting on a bike. So why haven’t the majority of Canadians also taken the precaution of planning for their future health care?

A recent Harris-Decima poll revealed that only 45% of Canadians have talked to someone about their future health care preferences, despite the fact that the majority of them believe it is important to do so. Advance Care Planning, a process of communicating your future health care wishes and naming a Substitute Decision Maker to speak for you if you are unable to do so, offers a way to start those conversations.

“Advance Care Planning is just another positive choice, like wearing your seatbelt or safety gear when you take part in a physical activity,” says Louise Hanvey, the Project Director for the Advance Care Planning in Canada Initiative. “When you make an advance care plan, you’re making a healthy lifestyle choice for yourself – and for those around you.”

The Advance Care Planning in Canada Initiative recommends 5 steps for doing advance care planning:
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, videos, wallet cards and conversation starters to help Canadians make their plan.

“Advance care planning is a way of looking after your health,” says Ms. Hanvey. “It gives you peace of mind – and gives those around you the gift of knowing what’s important to you, especially if they have to make decisions on your behalf. April 16 is National Advance Care Planning Day – this year, make a plan as part of your healthy lifestyle.”

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For more information about advance care planning, related research or to arrange interviews with ACP experts, contact: Tamir Virani at 1-800-668-2785 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.