What is Advance Care Planning?
Advance Care Planning is a process of thinking and talking about what’s important to you. This helps you, and those closest to you, prepare to make future health-care decisions.
What’s involved in Advance Care Planning?
THINK: what matters most to you? Who could make health-care decisions for you if you cannot?
TALK: Discuss your thoughts with those closest to you, and your health-care providers.
PLAN: Record your wishes. Share your plan with those closest to you and your health-care providers.
- What makes each day worthwhile?
- What’s most important to you?
- What beliefs guide you?
- How do you approach decision making?
- What worries you when you think about your future health?
- Are there things you already know about your preferences for care?
- What life-prolonging treatments are you willing to have, and for how long?
Who could be your voice?
You will always be asked to make decisions if you are able to understand information about your care options and communicate your wishes (this means you are capable). If you are not capable, your health-care provider will ask your Representative, appointed by you in a Representation Agreement.
If you don’t have a Representative, your health-care provider will follow your Advance Directive. These are instructions that give or refuse consent about specific health-care treatments directly to your health-care provider for a time when you are not capable.
If you don’t have an Advance Directive, your health-care provider will identify the first person to qualify as a Temporary Substitute Decision Maker from a list defined by law.
Temporary Substitute Decision Maker List
- Spouse, incl. common law
- Brother or sister
- Anyone else related by birth or adoption
- Close friend
- A person immediately related by marriage
- Public Guardian and Trustee or a person appointed by them
To qualify, the person must:
- be 19 or older,
- be capable,
- have no dispute with you, and
- have been in contact with you in the past year.
Talk with those closest to you. Example conversation starters:
I’m healthy right now, but I want to think ahead and be prepared for how we might handle things if something unexpected should happen.
I want you to be prepared if you had to make decisions on my behalf.
It’s really important all the family know what matters most to me about my health care.
Talk with your health-care provider
For everybody, talk about:
- who your SDM is;
- any specific wishes or instructions for care; and
- if you are contemplating an Advance Directive.
As you age or if you have serious illness, also ask about:
- what to expect from your illness;
- what your life might be like in one, two or five years; and
- what treatment options and complications might you face.
Record your wishes
Prepare an Advance Care Plan by:
- documenting or recording what matters most to you; and
- listing your potential Temporary Substitute Decision Makers. Even if you have a Representative: if they are unavailable, another person from the Temporary Substitute Decision Maker list may need to be contacted.
You may also wish to include:
- a Representation Agreement; and
- an Advance Directive.
Share your plan
Share your plan with your family, people who could be your voice, and your health-care providers.
- Store your plan in a safe place where it can be easily located if needed.
- Documents needed by first responders must be accessible to them, for example on your fridge.
Remember to review your Advance Care Planning annually or whenever your circumstances change.
Your Advance Care Planning (ACP) Resources:
- ACP Basics, a short brochure you may find useful to share with those closest to you
- Beliefs, Values and Wishes, a worksheet to help you determine your beliefs, values and wishes
- Decision Making BRAIN Tool, an informed decision making worksheet which will guide you through Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Next Steps
- Step One: THINK Questions, questions to help you begin the process of thinking about your values
- Questions to Consider, a worksheet to help in the decision-making process
- Talking with your loved ones, a booklet with ideas on how to start conversations and share what is important to you
- FAQs, answers from the BC Centre for Palliative Care
- Don’t Panic - A Letter, thoughts from a person facing terminal illness shared with those closest to her
- Substitute Decision Maker Wallet Card, printable wallet card for a person facing terminal illness
- Summary - Putting Your Papers in Order, a checklist