Advance Care Planning

(This information was first published by Postmedia News on January 21, 2015, as part of a report series by Sharon Kirkey)

Advance Care Planning in Canada’s Speak Up Campaign suggests five steps for creating an advance care plan. These steps consist of specific instructions to help guide a substitute decision-maker about care if faced with a life-threatening illness.

  1. Think about what’s right for you. What’s important to you about your care?
  2. Learn about different medical procedures, such as dialysis, CPR, tube-feeding and breathing machines. Some may improve your quality of life, while others may not.
  3. Choose a substitute decision-maker who is able to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself.
  4. Talk about your wishes with your substitute decision-maker, loved ones and your family doctor.
  5. Record your wishes – write them down, record them or make a video.

Experts say it is important to choose a substitute decision-maker who is prepared to carry out your wishes. “People have a very hard time putting their own beliefs and values aside,” said Dr. Russell Goldman, director of the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada’s largest home visiting palliative program.

For Goldman, “If I had to give direction to someone who is making decisions for me, it would be, “I can go to the ICU for a little while, if you think I’m going to recover and get better. But if you think I’m not going to recover, and I’m not going to get better, if my quality of life is going to be so diminished, call it off, and call it off quick.”