Published on April 17, 2021
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Submitted by Cari Borenko (Hoffmann), Regional Lead, Advance Care Planning, Fraser Health

Herraj Sandhu’s experience of getting COVID-19 made her realize the importance of advance care planning

Herraj Sandhu works as nursing faculty and program chair at a local university. She also picks up the odd direct care nursing shift. Herraj lives with her four young adult children ages 18-25. In late 2020, you could say life was a bit mundane. She was keeping busy – working, tending to things around the house, supporting her kids, exercising, and following provincial health orders. By all accounts, she was being wise, logical, and using her nursing common sense.

In December 2020, life changed. She and all of her children got COVID-19. Within 48-hours her symptoms were too much to manage at home and she was heading to the hospital emergency department.
When I spoke with Herraj, she recounted mustering up the energy to leave the house for the hospital. She said “All I could think about was I have no idea when or if I will come home. I have no will, my kids have no access to my bank accounts. I am not prepared for this.”

I asked her, in her opinion, what makes some people plan ahead and others not? Herraj said “most people in their 40s and 50s know the importance of planning but put it off and often never get to it. I know I should have talked to my kids about what matters to me and the treatments I might want or not want and why. I know I need a will. I just never got around to any of it.”

Herraj is slowly recovering. She knows she needs to get her financial, legal and health care in order and is working on it. She shared with me that when her Dad passed away, he had “set everything up for Mom. I need to do the same for my family.” I encouraged her to learn more about how to start the process and let her know that the Fraser Health Advance Care Planning team is open and available to chat things over with her.

April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day. Are you prepared? Do the people who matter most know what matters to you and what a good day looks like? Plan in advance for your health. While we can’t plan for everything, talking helps clarify our wishes and gives us a sense of control.

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