A 2010 Canadian study of hospitalized, elderly patients identified that there is a huge unmet need, that providing more support for end-of-life conversations and advance care planning will have a large positive impact on improving end-of-life care in Canada.
What is an advance care plan?
An advance care plan describes your wishes at the end of life, in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. Your plan may include information about your values, goals and preferences for procedures that you do or don’t want to have 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.). The most important aspects of advance care planning are naming one or more Substitute Decision Makers – someone who will speak on your behalf and make decisions for you when you are not able to do so yourself – and having a conversation with them about your wishes. See: www.advancecareplanning.ca for details.
Who should make an advance care plan?
Every adult should make a plan. You can’t predict how or when you will die – so having a plan ensures that others know your wishes and that your voice will be heard if you cannot speak for yourself.
When is an advance care plan used?
You plan is only used 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). Your representative can use it to guide your care and to express wishes on your behalf.