Imagine not being able to speak for yourself in a health care emergency. Who would you choose to speak for you? Who would you trust? With an Advance Care Plan, your healthcare decisions won’t be left to chance and your wishes will be respected.
With Advance Care Planning Day coming up on April 16, it’s time to shine a light on this important subject. It’s easy to put off this task, but we never know when we might have a health crisis or accident that leaves us unable to express our wishes. With a few simple considerations, an advance care plan can be created that meets your expectations and values.
An Advance Care Plan contains some essential elements about your values, beliefs and desires for your future healthcare. It begins with having honest conversations with your close family, friends and healthcare provider(s) so they know the treatments you would agree to or refuse if you become incapable of expressing your decisions.
Your Advance Care Plan is a document that states your wishes and appoints a person to become your spokesperson. This person will make decisions based on your wishes when required by physicians or other healthcare providers.
Considerations for Your Advance Care Plan
Representation Agreement: where you write your instructions and name someone to make your health and personal care decisions if you become incapable.
Advance Directive: states your instructions for healthcare that are given to your healthcare provider, which they must follow directly when it speaks to the care you need at the time if you become incapable.
Enduring Power of Attorney: where you appoint someone to make decisions about your financial affairs, business and property.
How to Create an Advance Care Plan
Download a Template
There are plenty of tools that will help you to create your plan. We encourage you to download the Province of BC advance care planning guide My Voice: Expressing My Wishes for Future Health Care Treatment, which comes in eight languages.
Talk to Family and Friends
Have conversations with your family and friends about your wishes, beliefs and values. While these can be difficult conversations to have, it’s important to state your wishes while you are still in control of your life. Very often, family members are relieved they won’t have to make critical decisions without prior information.
Decide on the Health Care Treatments You Will or Won’t Accept
Using your beliefs and values as your guide, write in the guide what treatments and procedures are acceptable to you. These can vary widely between individuals and it’s important that your family and health care providers know what your wishes are.
State Who Will be Your Representative
You may simply note in your Advance Care Plan the names and contact information for the people you wish to appoint as your Temporary Substitute Decision Maker. In cases where there may be tensions, such as large families or appointing a friend instead of a sibling, a Representation Agreement ensures your wishes are followed as this document is legally binding.
Put Your Advance Care Plan in a Safe, Accessible Place
Make sure the people who need your plan can find it quickly and easily.
Advance Care Planning Day is on April 16
Advance Care Planning Day (ACP) is April 16, 2023. The BC Centre for Palliative Care encourages everyone to create awareness in their communities by:
- Promoting Advance Care Planning Day online
- Opening discussions on social media
- Engaging local media
- Sharing personal stories
- Hosting public sessions/events
- Starting your own advance care planning
Visit the BC CRN’s advance care planning page for helpful information and resources for your presentations. The BC Centre for Palliative Care also has a campaign toolkit with social media posts, key messages, videos and more.