Published on March 29, 2021
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Submitted by Cari Borenko, Fraser Health & Editor; Cynthia Roling, Milieu Family Services

In the Fall of 2020, a keen and innovative “think outside the box” Adult Services Coordinator, Deanne Walsh of Milieu Family Services reached out to Fraser Health Advance Care Planning. I don’t believe any of us involved in those early emails and phone calls could have envisioned what came next nor what has been accomplished.

Three virtual sessions with over 40 participants from Milieu’s leadership and Community Living BC were facilitated by Fraser Health’s Advance Care Planning team. First, we talked about what Advance Care Planning is, the importance of staff documenting what the people they support do for fun, how they spend their days & how that relates to health care decisions. Second, we discussed the provincial law and substitute decision makers’ role and responsibilities. In the third session, participants gathered virtually in small groups and discussed how they would move Advance Care Planning forward, what roles various people may hold and what supports were needed.

Cynthia Roling, Executive Director for Milieu Family Services, who participated in the sessions said Advance Care Planning aligns with the philosophy of community living so was a natural fit. “We want to ensure that the voices of the people we support are heard and future health care planning is made in consideration of their current lifestyle, values, goals and preferences.” What surprised Cynthia and the leadership team was to learn that “Advance Care Planning is for everyone and should be done at any age not just when a serious illness or chronic condition occurs.”

To reinforce this message, the organization has a friendly competition under way as part of celebrating National Advance Care Planning Day. Staff are being encouraged to not only engage in Advance Care Planning for the people they support but also for themselves. The teams with the most engagement, will receive prizes!

When asked what advice Cynthia would provide other community living organizations, she said “Involve your staff teams in the training, create common language, implement policy and procedures and mentor the process. Make the implementation fun with incentives for people to participate.”

For more information about Advance Care Planning in Fraser Health, British Columbia, Advance care planning – Fraser Health Authority, or email [email protected] or call 1-877-825-5034. For information about Advance Care Planning in Canada, visit