Advance Care Planning in 5 Steps
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you are unable to consent or refuse treatment or other care.
Advance care planning means having discussions with family and friends, especially your Substitute Decision Maker – the person who will speak for you when you cannot. It may also include writing down your wishes, and may even involve talking with healthcare providers and financial and legal professionals. A written advance care plan may also be called an advance directive or a medical directive. This depends on your province/territory. Check out the resources specific to where you live.
Advance care planning may include thinking about information about treatments that you do or don’t want to have (such as CPR or mechanical ventilation), as well as other information about your care at the end of life (for example, religious rituals, being able to see a family member, dying at home or in palliative care, etc.).
This is the person(s) who will make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to speak for yourself due to sudden or serious illness. Or just in the event you become unable to consent or refuse treatment or other care options. They may also be called a Medical Proxy, a Medical Agent or a Power of Attorney for Personal Care.
It’s important to choose someone who you trust and feel will be comfortable carrying out and communicating your wishes. Don’t forget to have the conversation – it’s important that your Substitute Decision Maker knows about their role and your wishes.
Your substitute decision maker is only called upon if you are unable to make your own health care decisions (e.g. you are in a coma or your illness has impaired your ability to make decisions). Also, any written documents/plans are only referred to under these circumstances. If you have a written document, your substitute decision maker can use it to guide your care and advocate for your wishes.
You can change your plans as often as you like. Just make sure that the person representing you understands your wishes and has a copy of your most recent written document(s).