In Canada, over 300,000 vehicle accidents happen every year. Even with this high occurrence, not many people are aware of the importance of health care planning. Even though 80% of Canadians have thought about advance planning, only 7% have actually completed an Advance Care Plan.
Enjoy memories of the past, live in the moment, but always plan for the future. That is why it’s crucial to have a forward-looking health care plan to ensure you get the treatment you need in any situation.
What is an Advance Care Plan?
Advance care planning helps you make health care decisions early so that your wishes are respected in case you encounter an emergency situation. Advance care planning can also help your family feel secure and avoid the stress of making difficult care decisions while under pressure.
Here’s how you can get started on your own Advance Care Plan:
Step 1. Think about your wishes, beliefs and values and learn about your health care options
Advance care planning begins by thinking about how you wish to be treated in case of a health emergency. In this step, it’s important to learn about the specific medical procedures and care options available to you. Without access to a treatment guide that can help you identify your needs, your family may not know your beliefs and values.
Step 2. Appoint a Substitute Decision Maker
The next step is to assign a family member or a health care provider you trust to be your Substitute Decision Maker. A Substitute Decision Maker can make decisions on your behalf when you become incapable of making your own. A Health Representative/Advocate is required for making health or medical decisions on your behalf. For more information about the difference between Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement, click here.
Step 3. Talk to your family about your wishes
Talking about your wishes with family and health care providers gives them an idea of your comfort level and whether you want to accept life-support interventions like breathing machines or feeding tubes. For example, one health care option to consider is whether you wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops. Planning ahead allows you to understand the implications of your treatment decisions.
What about financial planning?
Financial planning is part of advance care planning. There may come a time when you need to move to a nursing home or long-term care home, but your financial situation may limit your options. A glance at your financial situation is a critical part of planning your health care needs. Many law firms and financial planning firms provide services that help adults plan for their retirement and care needs.
Finally, remember to keep your Advance Care Plan up-to-date
An Advance Care Plan may change over time as your personal circumstances change. As long as you are capable of making decisions, you may alter and cancel any part of your plan at any time, including legal documents for appointing Substitute Decision Makers.
For more information, visit the Government of B.C. Advance Care Planning.