Do you have somebody who knows what your health care wishes are?



A message from Dr. Kelsey Louie, Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer & Nicole Wikjord, Manager, Chronic Disease & Serious Illness Team, FNHA Office of the Chief Nursing Officer

Advance Care Planning Day on April 16 is an opportunity to think about the answer to that question.

Imagine you are in a hospital room, with a concussion, unable to think clearly.  Who is at your bedside helping to guide the health care team, on your behalf? 

Whom would you trust most to make those health care decisions for you?

How confident are you that this person making decisions for you knows your wishes?

Naming someone to be a “substitute decision maker" is part of Advance Care Planning. It also includes knowing your wishes, values, goals and traditional or cultural practices and how you want them to be incorporated and respected by your health care team.

Talking in advance about your future health care is like creating a basket of information you or your family can reach into when needed.  To prepare your own basket, there are 5 steps to follow.   

There are several benefits to Advanced Care Planning, including:

  • It can help avoid family conflict – when family members may have differing understandings of your wishes – especially during times of stress
  • It gives you peace of mind knowing your wishes will be followed
  • Your health care is more likely to align with your values, wishes, goals and traditional practices

“Advance Care Planning can be viewed as a living will – which is difficult for many people to talk about – but it is really about trying to uphold a person's dignity and wishes as they experience illness or journey to the Spirit World. "

– Nikki Hunter, Home Care Nurse and Supervisor at Líl̓wat Health and Healing Centre.

Whom would you trust to make your health care decisions?

You have the power to choose. They can be a family member, a friend, or anyone in your life whom you trust to carry out your health care decisions. This person is called a substitute decision maker. This person can be “temporary" (i.e., if your condition or state of health improves and you can meaningfully make your own decisions again) and your advance care planning document is considered a “living document," meaning it can always be updated by you. You are able to adjust your wishes or to change your substitute decision maker at any time.

You don't need to be sick or older to create an Advance Care Plan. In fact, it's ideal if you're feeling healthy and well so that you can make decisions without being under stress.

Video: Honour Your Journey


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