Advance Care Planning

What Is Advance Care Planning? | Tools and Resources | Personal Stories | For Health Professionals

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What Is Advance Care Pl​​anning?

Advance Care Planning is about talking with your family, friends and health care team so they know how you wish to be cared for if you ever become ill or badly hurt. It’s about thinking about what matters – your values, goals, traditional practices and preferences. It's also about deciding who will speak for you and reviewing your plan when things change. 

Advance Care Planning is one way to be prepared for the unexpected. 

Five Steps in ​​Advance Care Planning

Th​​ink – ​Think about what is important to you. What do you enjoy? What gives your life meaning and joy? What is most important to you about your health care? Are traditional healing practices or ceremony important to you? Remember that health care wishes include physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.

Le​​​arn – Learn about any health conditions you have. Your health care team can help. As you get older, what will living with your health condition be like? What kind of decisions will you have to make in the future? Talk to your health care team, including a Traditional Healer, ​​about your health. Ask about the treatments may be offered to you, based on your health, in one year or two years or five years.

Dec​i​​de – Decide who can speak for you, if you cannot speak for yourself. Think about who knows you best and is willing to speak for you. This person (or persons) is called a Substitute Decision Maker. A substitute decision maker is a spokesperson or someone who will tell your story if you cannot. This person is able to make medical decisions for you based on what they know is important to you. You may choose one or more substitute decision makers. Be sure to tell the person plus your friends and family who you would like as your substitute decision maker.There are laws in BC that will affect who is able to make the decisions, if you are not able.

Ta​l​​k – Talk to your family and those who matter most to you about what is important to you, what brings you joy and how you would like to live. 

Re​co​rd – Record your thoughts, goals and priorities in any form – written, audio recording, video recording. You may also wish to complete legal documents. Share copies with people who matter to you, your Substitute Decision Maker and your health care team.

Finally, remember that you will need to review your Advance Care Plan when there are changes to your health and wellness.​

Tools and Resources

These resources can help you get started with Advance Care Planning. 

Your Care, Your Choices 

Your Care, Your Choices​ is a guide to learning about Advance Care Planning for yourself. 

This guide was adapted with consent from the Alaska Native Medical Center with input from health care providers and various First Nations people. Developed in collaboration with Indigenous elders, this comprehensive guide It includes personal stories as well as information about substitute decision makers, advance directives, expressed wishes for medical care, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), life support and tube feeding. 

The guide includes workbook-style pages for you to record your decisions as well as copies of provincial legal forms that might be used in BC.

To request a print copy, please contact us. 

Coming Full Circle: Planni​​​ng for Your Care

I follow a traditional lifestyle and that would be part of my expectations in my care – that ​it would be woven into Western interventions. That might mean plant medicines, teas and ceremonies.

– Elder 

Created by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous people, Coming Full Circle: Planni​​​ng for Your Care helps First Nations, Inuit and Métis in planning for and having discussions about their care should they become seriously ill or if they can no longer speak for themselves. The booklet: 

* includes questions to guide reflection on values, beliefs and wishes for future healthcare

* outlines how to choose substitute decision-makers

* suggests ways to talk with families and healthcare providers to make wishes known

The booklet is available for download at LivingMyCulture.ca​. Select the First Nations, Inuit or Métis icon and scroll down to the Print materials section. 

COVID-19 Treatme​nt Options

Let’s Talk About Hospital Treatment Options During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Personal St​​ories

Fancy C. P​​​​​oitras​

My Journey into Advance Care Planning (personal story and update from Fancy C. Poitras, Senior Policy Analyst at FNHA)

Nikki Hunter

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, FNHA Home Care Nurse and Supervisor (read Nicki's story: Líl̓wat Health & Healing Shifts Advance Care Planning for COVID-19)

For Health Pr​ofe​ssionals

Advance Care Planning: Talking to Your Co​​mmunity (Speak Up Canada video)

FNHA has developed several nursing resources for Advance Care Planning during COVID-19. See Nursing Practice in For Health Professionals in our Coronavirus section. ​

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