Skip to main content

MAiD frequently asked questions

For answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), please click the questions below.

After being assessed and found eligible, medical assistance in dying is the act by which a physician and nurse practitioner is able to administer and/or prescribe medication that will end a person’s life.

 

There are many terms used in regards to Medical Assistance in Dying, and sometimes those terms are used interchangeably.  However, Medical Assistance in Dying speaks to all the different terms in that it includes both physicians and nurse practitioners assisting death, as well as the different types of assistance (for example providing the medication for someone to self administer versus administering the medication to the person).

 

You may be eligible for an assisted death if you feel you meet all the criteria below:

- Are at least 18 years of age;

- Are eligible for publicly-funded health services in Canada;

- Are able to make your own decisions about your health, and this decision in particular;

- Have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that is:

  • You have been diagnosed with a serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability;

  • You suffer unbearably from your medical condition, either physically or psychologically;

  • Your medical condition has advanced or declined to the point where it cannot be reversed

- Have been informed of the means that are available to relieve your suffering, including palliative care;

- Are making this request of your own free will, and not because of pressure or influence from others.

 

By completing and signing the 1632 Request for Medical Assistance in Dying form and submitting it either directly to the Assisted Dying Program, or through your health-care team, you begin the official application request and process.

 

No. The medical condition does not need to be fatal or terminal to meet the eligibility criteria. It does, however, need to be serious and incurable.  For example, osteoarthritis is serious and incurable, but is not fatal or terminal.

 

If an Assessor informs you that they have found you not eligible for Medical Assistance in Dying there are a few things you can do. 

  • You can also request another assessment by a different provider. There is no restriction on the number of assessments that a patient can have.  If you wish to seek additional Assessors outside of our health authority the Assisted Dying Program can connect you with the Care Coordination Services across BC.

  • You may decide that you accept that finding and choose to explore other care options.  You are encouraged to work with your health-care team to create a care plan that addresses your needs in an alternative way.  You are encouraged to create an Advanced Care Plan, in which your wishes and plans for end of life care are written.  For more information refer to the links in the Key Terms.

  • You may request to be reassess at another time, if your clinical condition changes.

 

As long as you meet all of the criteria listed in the law, including capacity to make your own medical decisions, you may be eligible to receive an assisted death.  At this time, a patient with a sole diagnosis of a mental illness will not be considered eligible for an assisted death, however, they may wish to still inquire.

 

If you feel the list of criteria above applies to you and you want more information you can talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner, or call or email the Assisted Dying Program at Vancouver Coastal Health directly.

Please understand individual doctors and nurse practitioners are not obligated to participate directly in the process if they do not personally agree with it, but it is their professional responsibility to connect you with other care providers who can help you explore your request.

 

For more information on the general steps, refer to the Medical Assistance in Dying patient brochure, which is on the  resources page.

 

Yes, of course. You can change your mind at any time about when to proceed, or if to proceed at all.

 

This depends on the complexity of your individual case, your location, available practitioners, your preferred timeline, and the stream of eligibility criteria you fall under.  You are encouraged to share your preferred timeline, and depending on these factors all efforts will be made to accommodate your request.  Some people complete the request form and/or assessments and never move forward with medical assistance in dying.

 

This does not exclude you from being eligible, but it may mean extra coordination and planning between you, your health-care team, and/or the Assisted Dying Program. If you are physically unable to sign the form, a proxy will need to be arranged. If you have difficulty communicating, or need the assistance of a translator, coordination will take place to ensure effective and reliable means of communicating, for example including translation services or a speech-language pathologist.

Yes, it is available in all regions of Vancouver Coastal Health.

 

No. Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are receiving publicly-funded health services in Canada have access to Medical Assistance in Dying at no cost.

 

No. At this time requests and assessments for an assisted death cannot be provided based on an advance directive, other advance care plan, at the request of a substitute decision-maker, or power of attorney.  Only the patient themselves can request and consent to Medical Assistance in Dying.

 

Yes, as long as the health-care professionals are qualified and authorized to be involved, and there are sufficient personnel to ensure you receive Medical Assistance in Dying safely.  Keep in mind that health-care professionals are not obligated to provide or participate in assisted deaths, however they do have the professional responsibility to ensure patients have access.  As well, the health-care provider who prescribes or administers the medications and will be present for your death, will be a member of the Assisted Dying Program, and work along side your existing health-care team.

 

Provision refers to the act of assisting death or Medical Assistance in Dying.  You may hear health-care providers referring to your ‘provision day’ which means the day in which your assisted death is scheduled to take place.

 

Yes. The number of friends and family present can be at the patients request and agreed upon by the care team, depending on specific resources, specific circumstances, policies, and other factors.

 

Assisted deaths can be provided in most health-care facilities, at the patient’s home, at a designated Medical Assistance in Dying location, or other locations agreed upon by the patient and care team.

 

The medications used include agents to numb the vein and treat pain, put the person to sleep, relax their muscles, and stop the heart and lungs. All of these medications are used on a daily basis within health care. These medications, including their risks and effects, will be explained to you during the eligibility review process.

 

With intravenous administration most patients lose consciousness quickly, and die within minutes. The oral route can take much longer and varies from person to person based on absorption and tolerance.

 

Other end-of-life care options may include comfort care, pain control, terminal sedation, hospice care, palliative care, and more. For more information, visit our Hospice palliative care page.

 

Yes. They are separate services, and it is common for MAiD patients to also be receiving palliative care at the same time.

 

You can talk more about it with your health-care provider, or visit our Hospice palliative care page for more information.

 

Amendments have been made for an assisted death to reflect on valid policies. However, it is important to contact your life insurance company/pension provider to clarify if they may be affected.

 

This is a very nuanced and debated topic, and is often case by case specific based on the complete picture of ones circumstances.  Some see the difference being that suicidality is an acute wish to die, being unable to see living as an option, where as MAiD is an accumulation of losses over time that lead to one feeling life isn't worth living because quality is too poor.  To discuss this further, however, please contact the Assisted Dying Program directly.  Keep in mind that our line is not a crisis line and is only Monday to Friday.  For crisis support and help please contact the Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Centre of BC at 1-800-784-2433.

 

Yes, it may be possible for some patients who receive an assisted death to donate their organs or eyes.  This is reviewed and determined on a case to case basis after completion of the two Medical Assistance in Dying assessments where you are found eligible. It also means that death must occur in a hospital setting equipped for Donation after Circulatory Death. For more information visit the BC Transplant website or talk to your care provider.

 

You can talk to any of your health-care providers, review the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) page on the BC Ministry of Health website, contact the Vancouver Coastal Health Care Coordination Service at 1-844-550-5556 (inside BC) or 604-875-4249 (outside of BC) or email assisteddying@vch.ca.

 

Often the person considering medical assistance in dying is further ahead in their decision-making process than their family members may be expecting.  It is important to have open and honest discussions.  These discussions may be emotional too.  Recognizing the importance of family relationships as well as the bereavement process, resources are available to assist you and your loved ones uncertainty or disagreements.  These include social workers, counsellors, spiritual care providers and clinical ethics teams.  Your physician and local care team can help connect you to these and other bereavement resources. Coming soon to the Resources section will be a booklet specifically focused to the support of loved ones.

 

Bill C-7 is a proposal to amend the Criminal Code of Canada in regards to Medical Assistance in Dying.  Specific amendments will change the eligibility criteria, safeguards, and waiver of final consent.  During this time and for a short period afterwards the Assisted Dying Program will be working to update the information available to you.  For more information please visit the Bill C-7 page of the Department of Justice Canada website. 

 
 

Other questions?

The Vancouver Coastal Health Assisted Dying Program is working diligently to update the information and resources available to you, specifically in regards to the legislation changes that came in March 2021.  Information about specifics, and step-by step guides for patients and families can be found in the resources section. We thank you for your patience, and please contact us in the meantime with questions and urgent inquires.

Phone: 1-844-550-5556 (within BC) or 604-875-4249 (outside of BC)

Emailassisteddying@vch.ca

Fax: 1-888-865-2941

SOURCE: MAiD frequently asked questions ( )
Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.