One never knows when a serious accident such as a fall or an illness might result in rendering you incapable of making your own personal health care treatment decisions.
Therefore, it’s never too early to begin planning for your care in advance. It makes sense that when the people you trust know what is important to you, it will be easier for them to make decisions in accordance with your wishes, on your behalf.
The following are some suggestions on how to begin according to HealthLink BC (at 811). Start with telling someone close to you (or your health care provider) that you wish to talk about your future health care. A resource entitled The Provincial Guide and Workbook: My Voice Expressing my Wishes for Future Health is available upon request.
When you write down your wishes and instructions regarding your future health care, note that this basic advance plan consists of a written record of your beliefs, values and wishes for future health care treatment through conversations you have made with close family or friends and your health care providers, plus a list the names and contact information of the people who qualify to be on your Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM) list.
When a TSDM is needed, one person is chosen from this list in the order which is set by BC law. Note also that your plan may include a Representation Agreement (RA) where you write down your instructions and name someone to make decisions about your financial affairs, business and property in an Enduring Power of Attorney document which would take effect only when you become incapable.
Keep your advance care plan documentation at home or in an easily located place such as a file folder, or attached to the refrigerator with a magnet. Be certain to provide a copy of this documentation to your close family member(s) and health care providers as well as your RA if you named one, and any others who are close to you.
We are reminded that circumstances change, including our beliefs, values and wishes. However, as long as you are capable of making your own decisions, you can cancel or change any part of your advance care plan. Just keep in mind that by taking the steps necessary, you are expressing your wishes and instructions for the purpose of ensuring future health care treatment.
By planning ahead, you retain a voice in future health care decisions and will be certain your wishes are respected. Every capable adult should think about making an advance care plan.