Advance Care Planning
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​What do I need to know?

Advance care planning is making a plan for your future health care while you’re still able to make health care decisions for yourself. Even if you’re doing well now, it’s a good idea to prepare in case you're badly hurt or develop a serious illness. As long as you can still make your own decisions, your advance care plan won't be used. You can say "yes" or "no" or change your mind about treatment, including changing or cancelling your advance care plan at any time.

It can be hard to think and talk about the end of your life but it’s best to do these things before you’re in a crisis. Talk with your loved ones and your health professionals about the kinds of care you do or don't want to have, such as when to consider, continue or abandon life-support measures. Don't assume that they know what you want.

An advance care plan helps to make sure that your wishes are respected because your loved ones and doctors can use the information in your advance care plan to make treatment choices for you, if you can’t make them for yourself. Having a plan eases the burden on your family so that they don't have to decide what is best for you. If you've done an advance care plan, share it with your loved ones and your doctor. Your plans will do no good if no one knows about them.

What do I need to do?

Learn about the options available to you in British Columbia outlined in the My Voice: Expressing My Wishes for Future Health Care guide. These include:

  1. Complete an Advance Directive which can give legally binding instructions directly to doctors about treatments you would refuse, as well as guidance about your wishes for care. A frank discussion with your doctor is very important as you create this plan — so that he/she can write medical orders for care that honor your wishes.
  2. Complete a Representation Agreement which names the person(s) you wish to be your substitute decision maker. Talk openly with the person(s) you choose, so they can fulfill their responsibility to make decisions, which follow your instruction or wishes.
  3. Discuss your plan with your loved ones and/or write down your wishes or instructions clearly. This way you can rely on any of your loved ones to follow your plan in their role as Temporary Substitute Decision Maker(s) if selected by your doctors to make health care decisions on your behalf.
  4. If you don’t discuss your wishes or write down your instructions, you can still be assured that your doctors and loved ones will make health care treatment decisions, which they believe are in your best interest and you will receive excellent and medically appropriate car

Other resources

There are several resources that can help you start the conversation about advance care planning.



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