Advance Care Planning means thinking about your values and wishes for future health and personal care and sharing your wishes with others. The Advance Care Plan resulting from this process is a tool that will inform your family, friends or other trusted individuals about what is important to you and give them the confidence to make decisions for you if you ever be unable to speak for yourself.
A Health Care Directive is a separate, legally binding document that you may wish to include as part of your Advance Care Plan. Your Health Care Directive may appoint a Proxy to speak on your behalf, and may include specifics about what you want with respect to your future care and treatment.
Advance Care Planning
Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences in the event that a health practitioner determines you are not capable to either make and/or communicate your own healthcare choices. Advance Care Planning means having discussions with family and friends, especially your Proxy (if you have named one in a legally binding Health Care Directive), or with family and friends who may be called upon to be your Substitute Decision Maker (the person who will speak for you) if a Proxy has not been named in a Health Care Directive. It may also include preparing a written Advance Care Plan, creating a Health Care Directive, and may even involve talking with healthcare providers and financial and legal professionals.
There are 5 Steps to Advance Care Planning:
- Step 1 – Think. What are your values, wishes about your care and specific medical procedures?
- Step 2 – Learn. Learn about specific medical procedures and what they can and can’t do.
- Step 3 – Choose. Choose someone you trust who is willing and able to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself. In PEI there are special rules that need to be followed to officially appoint a Proxy – someone who can speak on your behalf.
- Step 4 – Talk. Talk about your wishes with your Proxy, loved ones and your doctor.
- Step 5 – Record your wishes. It is a good idea to write down or make a recording of your wishes.
The 5 Steps to Advance Care Planning
If you are interested in creating and Advance Care Plan, here is the link to the online Advance Care Planning interactive workbook.
Health Care Directive
A Health Care Directive is a legally binding document in which you explain, in writing, your wishes about health care and treatment in case a health practitioner has determined you are not capable to either make and/or communicate their own healthcare choices. In your directive, you can appoint another person, called a Proxy, to make health care decisions for you when you are not capable to either make and/or communicate them yourself. Anyone who is 16 years of age or older and capable of making health care decisions can make a directive.
A Health Care Directive needs to be in writing, and be dated and signed in order to be valid. A Health Care Directive never takes priority over a capable person’s consent
Your Health Care Directive may be very detailed about what treatments you want or don’t want, or may be a general outline of your values, beliefs and wishes, without details. Your directive will guide your Proxy or Subsequent Decision Makers in the decisions to be made about your treatment when a health practitioner has determined that you’re not capable of doing this yourself.
A Health Care Directive in Prince Edward Island may include some or all of the following:
- your appointment of any person or persons as Proxy to make health care decisions for you when you cannot make or communicate them yourself;
- what treatments, procedures, or medications you want, don’t want, or would like to have stopped;
- when you would like to die a natural death and receive only the care necessary to reduce pain and suffering;
- your statement that specifies an event or circumstances when your health care directive takes effect;
- any other instructions you have concerning your health care or treatment.
A health practitioner must decide if you are capable of making your own health care decisions. If you are not capable of making your own health care decisions, your Proxy will be asked to speak on your behalf and the wishes expressed in your Health Care Directive will be followed, provided they are realistically possible and are consistent with the ethical standards of the health practitioner responsible for your care and treatment. It helps to let others know that you have prepared a Health Care Directive – your family, friends, clergy, lawyer, doctor or other health care provider(s). You may want to discuss your decisions with them and provide them with a copy of your Health Care Directive, especially your Proxy (if you have named one in a legally binding Health Care Directive), or with family and friends who may be called upon to be your Substitute Decision Maker (the person who will speak for you) if a Proxy has not been named in a Health Care Directive.
Remember, your Health Care Directive will only be used if a health practitioner has determined that you are not capable to either make and/or communicate their own healthcare choices. You can also change your wishes and your Proxy at any time.
You may never need to use your Health Care Directive – but if you do, you’ll be glad that you have engaged in Advance Care Planning conversations. Your substitute decision maker (or Proxy) will be in a better position to make decisions on your behalf – knowing that they can make decisions on your behalf that reflect your values, beliefs and wishes.
Record your end of life wishes. If you are interested in making this official, here is the link to a sample Health Care Directive form. We suggest that you go through the workbook before completing your Health Care Directive. This link will reappear at the end of the workbook.