Advance care planning is a chance for you to reflect on your preferences about your current and future healthcare decisions. These decisions are usually shared with your family members and health-care providers. It ensures that your wishes are respected in the future if you are unable to communicate your preferences on your own.
Every adult should make an advance care plan, because no one can predict the future. Advance care planning is especially important if you are facing a serious illness. Knowing that you have a plan may help reduce anxiety for you and your loved ones. Your advanced care plan can be a written document, a video or audio recording, or could simply be a discussion with your family and care team members about your wishes. Whether they are recorded or not, they are legally binding.
Your advance care plan will only be used if for example, you are in a coma or your illness impairs your ability to make decisions. At this time your substitute decision maker will assist your health-care team in planning your medical care based on your wishes. Your substitute decision maker is the person who you choose to help make sure your wishes are met.
Creating your advance care plan
Talking about end of life issues can be difficult, however it will likely be up to you to express your wishes and start conversations about advance care planning. Here are some tips to help you start the conversation:
- Begin by reflecting on your values, beliefs and understanding about your illness, treatments and care.
- Think about who you feel would be most capable of honouring and making medical decisions on your behalf.
Members of your care team can talk with you and provide guidance on how to start advance care planning conversations.
Changing your advance care plan
You can change your advance care plan as often as you like. Our lives, and the people around us, change over time. It’s a good idea to review your plan every so often so that it reflects any changes in your preferences. Make sure you talk to your substitute decision maker about these changes.