Published on September 19, 2016
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Knowledge of Advance Care Planning (ACP) has been growing across Canada over the past five years, but the details and specifics around legal requirements and best practices are not always clearly and consistently communicated. In Ontario, Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) has engaged in a number of educational activities to help ensure that Ontarians engage in advance care planning and health care consent practices that are both legal and representative of their future wishes, values and beliefs, to guide their Substitute Decision Maker if called upon to make a treatment decision on their behalf.

Hospice Palliative Care Ontario has been a significant ACP champion for many years, promoting the Speak Up campaign and working with individuals and organizations across Ontario to raise awareness and promote best practices. Recently, they have developed several educational activities and resources, and are quickly becoming a centre of excellence for Advance Care Planning and Health Care Consent (HCC) in Ontario.

Julie Darnay, HPCO’s Manager, Partnerships and Communities of Practices, says that educational resources are key to ensuring that Ontarians receive consistent messaging and the right information. “Advance care planning and health care consent can be confusing, even for those with a health care background,” she says. “We want to ensure that there’s a full understanding of the processes and legal requirements in Ontario.”

HPCO offers a number of resources for individuals and organizations, including a newly launched Speak Up Ontario website and an Ontario-specific online interactive, as well as a hard copy workbook. Education programs for health professionals and related organizations are developed through a HCC ACP Community of Practice (CoP) consisting of both a Leadership Team and a Regional Champions Group.  The CoP has been exceptionally well received, with a broad and growing membership, and enthusiastic participants who have dedicated their time to gain the knowledge required to educate others in their communities.

A targeted webinar series has also recently been launched by the CoP. The webinars are popular with individuals and organizations, and the upcoming Fall series is already selling out. The new series is designed to provide education to health professionals, administrators and policy makers across the province, including Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) teams, Provincial Associations, HealthLinks and Community Partners, hospital and Long Term Care  staff, as well as CCAC Care Coordinators.

Julie notes that a key goal is to give these groups reliable and accurate information about both Advance Care Planning and Health Care Consent, so that they can implement practices that support community members and meet Ontario’s legal framework. “As health care practices evolve and become more complex, these conversations are becoming more and more important,” she says. “It’s critical that they occur in a fully informed and compliant way.”