Presented by: Occupational Therapist, Mental Health Care Navigator, and Registered Nurse
Communication is the most important aspect in your healthcare journey especially when faced with twists and turns. Imagine one day you lose your ability to make decisions and have to rely on your loved ones to make decisions for you. Could they confidently communicate your wishes?
Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a process of reflection and communication around difficult situations. This process allows you and your loved ones to reflect on your own values and wishes and to let others know what kind of health and personal care you would want if you became incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment. Decisions may revolve around your preference for CPR, intubation, opting for comfort, staying in your home with support or being transferred to a palliative care unit. ACP can be a very difficult topic to initiate with your loves ones. However, talking about your values and goals will give you and your loved ones peace of mind and may be an essential component of your healthcare journey.
To illustrate ACP in action:
Geri*, was a 90 year old patient of the Sunnybrook Academic Family Health Team. Geri knew her physical and mental health were declining and she recognized the importance of Advance Care Planning. She had very few family members, however she was close with her niece and substitute decision maker, Melissa*. In collaboration with her healthcare team, Geri engaged Melissa in conversation around her own values and her goals of care as they related to her health. When Geri was no longer able to make decisions for herself, Melissa stepped in to make decisions during each stage of Geri’s journey based on her previously expressed wishes. Melissa knew that her aunt did not want CPR or the resulting intubation so she signed a no CPR form. Melissa also knew that her Aunt Geri wanted to stay in her home for end of life care, rather than a hospice or palliative care unit. When Geri’s health deteriorated, Melissa communicated with the healthcare team to ensure her wishes for comfort care were respected. Geri died peacefully in her own bed according to her wishes. Melissa later shared with us: “I have completed my journey with my Aunt Geri. With help and guidance, I was able to voice Aunt Geri’s wishes without regret, knowing her values and wishes she had communicated to me. And for that I will always be grateful.”
*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.
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