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Advance Care Planning

It is important that you have a conversation with your loved ones and health care provider about advance care planning while you are healthy. There may be a time when you may not be able to decide for yourself when you are very sick or near death and your loved ones won’t know what kind of care you want unless you tell them.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning helps you have a say about the health care you would like to receive if you get very sick and cannot speak for yourself. It is a way for you to reflect on your personal values, wishes and beliefs to make your own future health care decisions.

Your doctor and family members won’t have to guess what you would want if you are unable to communicate.   

Who should do advance care planning?

Adults who are able to make their own health care decisions – especially those with a chronic or complex health condition – are encouraged to start the advance care planning process.

How to get started with planning

When you’re ready to start the conversation about advance care planning, the first step is to speak with your health care provider and those close to you to make sure they know your wishes, understand them and are willing to honour them.

How you could start the conversation:

“I’ve been thinking about the future and what kind of health care decisions I might have to make. I wonder if we could talk about it.”

Once you have completed your plan, give copies to your doctor and the people who are close to you.

You are not locked into your plan

You can change your advance care plan at any time while you are still capable of making decisions – you are not locked into your plan. If you do change your plan, give new copies to your health care providers, representative (if you have one), family and friends and revoke your old plan.

Does a power of attorney cover health care decisions?

No. In British Columbia, your power of attorney can only make legal and financial decisions for you. They cannot make decisions about health care.

Four types of plans

The new provincial My Voice Expressing My Wishes for Future Health Care Treatment booklet explains the new advance care planning options and how they work. It also has the forms you need to make the advance care plan you choose. 

  • A basic advance care plan: a  written statement of your beliefs, values and wishes, with a contact list for people who could be your potential Temporary Substitute Decision Maker.

  • A basic advance care plan, plus name a Representative in a Representation Agreement; the representative will make health and personal decisions for you.

  • A  basic advance care plan, plus make an Advance Directive. An Advance Directive is a capable adult’s written instructions that speak directly to their health care provider about   future health care treatment.

  • A basic advance care plan, plus name a Representative in a Representation Agreement and make an Advance Directive.

Attend an advance care planning workshop

Our Community Engagement team hosts virtual workshops a few times a year and they are facilitated by experienced Community Engagement Advisory Network (CEAN) volunteers. You and/or a family member, caregiver or friend can attend. Visit the Engage VCH to register for a workshop.

SOURCE: Advance Care Planning ( )
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