Imagine, one day, without any warning, you find yourself in a hospital in a life-threatening situation, unable to communicate. Who would speak for you and make health care decisions on your behalf? That’s a question that all of us need to answer – and a March 2012 Ipsos-Reid poll indicates that most have not. The poll found that 86 per cent of Canadians have not heard of advance care planning and less than half have had a discussion with a family member or friend about health-care treatments if they were ill and unable to communicate.
Monday, April 16 has been declared National Advance Care Planning Day.
What is advance care planning? Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care.
Advance care planning means having discussions with family and friends, especially your Substitute Decision Maker – the person who will speak for you when you cannot. It may also include writing down your wishes, and may even involve talking with healthcare providers and financial and legal professionals.
You may never need your advance care plan – but if you do, you’ll be glad that it’s there and that you have had these conversations, to make sure that your voice is heard when you cannot speak for yourself.
For more information and helpful resources on “My Voice – Advance Care Planning” contact the Comox Valley Hospice Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Vancouver Island Health Authority website at www.viha.ca/advance_care_planning.
– Comox Valley Hospice Society