Advance Care Planning Waterloo Wellington


The Waterloo Wellington Advance Care Planning Education Program “Conversations Worth Having” is a 3 year initiative funded by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network. Launched in 2015, this program is uniquely designed to engage the general public, community professionals and health care providers to build understanding and capacity for Advance Care Planning across Guelph/Wellington and Waterloo Region.

This project is focused on CHANGE; change in awareness, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours associated with advance care planning. Even more specifically, Conversations Worth Having is focused on raising awareness of the role of the Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM) in Ontario and encouraging the conversations that can equip an SDM to make health care decisions for an individual when that person is mentally incapable of making those decisions for him/herself.


Conversations Worth Having represents a partnership between Hospice Waterloo Region and Hospice Wellington. These two organizations are working together to promote Advance Care Planning, leveraging their networks and connections across Waterloo Region and Guelph/Wellington to support this initiative. The program is also supported and guided by a steering committee of local champions representing both our community and our health care providers across Waterloo Region and Guelph/Wellington. We are pleased to include the following key decision makers and influencers in this esteemed group:

Goldie Barth Public Representative Janice MacDonald Guelph General Hospital
John Milloy Waterloo Lutheran Seminary Wendy Filiatrault peopleCare A.R Goudie LTC
Ted Giesbrecht Giesbrecht, Griffin, Funk and Irvine LLP Ruth Auber University Gates LTC
Cathy Brothers Capacity Canada Dana Khan Community Care Access Centre, WW
Jim Kibble Financial/Estate Planner Dr. Rachael Halligan Regional Primary Care Cancer Lead
Tyler Hortie Cohen Highley LLP Lawyers Emmi Perkins Waterloo Wellington Integrated Hospice Palliative Care Program
Cam Skipper McIntyre & Wilkie Funeral Home Dr. Alison Williams Upper Grand Family Health Team
Judy Nairn Hospice Waterloo Region Dr. Jean Skillman Cambridge Physician
Todd Fraleigh Hospice Wellington (Corresponding) Denise Squire Woolwich Community Health Centre
 Chris Bigelow  Pain & Symptom Management Consultant


The Conversations Worth Having Program team has been working hard on the ground and through extensive engagement we have learned from our community to shape a program for our community. Learn more from our stats, our reports and from what we have heard and been able to accomplish.

Year 1 Infographic

Year 2 Infographic

Coming soon…Program Evaluation Reports

“Education and information of Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM) is critical… this  can be very confusing for the SDM if not updated.  People assume that they have it covered, but the SDM doesn’t understand their role, or they are named but didn’t know it, or aren’t fulfilling their duties, or in some cases have even passed away.”

Comment from a session participant


The Conversations Worth Having Program team includes 3 full time staff focused on engaging directly with the general public, community professionals and health care providers across Waterloo Region and Guelph/Wellington. This team is available to provide you with the resources, education and support needed to participate and encourage correct advance care planning conversations.


  • Sheli O’Connor
    Sheli O’Connor Program Lead

    Sheli is responsible for engaging with system leaders and connecting this program to provincial/national initiatives. In addition to supporting the steering committee, her role includes staying current with changes (locally, provincially, nationally and internationally), advocacy and system development as well as oversight for the day to day operations of the Conversations Worth Having initiative.

    If you would like to connect with Sheli about the Conversations Worth Having initiative and how you can become involved contact her at or 519-743-4114 ext 111.


  • Dale Gellatly
    Dale Gellatly Community Engagement Lead

    Dale is responsible for engaging with community residents, lawyers, financial institutions, insurance companies, faith communities, seniors groups, retirement homes and other groups across Waterloo and Guelph/ Wellington. Dale would be delighted to bring information and resources to your group/organization.

    If you are interested in working with us to raise awareness, would like to schedule a presentation or are interested in obtaining key resources contact Dale at or 519-743-4114 ext 123.

  • Ashley Tyrrell
    Ashley Tyrrell Health Care Engagement Lead

    Ashley is responsible for engaging with stakeholders within the health sector including long term care, hospitals, primary care, and community based health care. Ashley is a strong collaborator and welcomes the opportunity to work with the health care system to ensure correct understanding and practices related to Advance Care Planning.

    If you are interested in learning more about how you can support Advance Care Planning conversations with your patients, would like to obtain key resources or schedule a session to learn how you can work with us to ensure correct Advance Care Planning practices contact Ashley at or 519-743-4114 ext 128.


Stories are often the greatest way to reach people.  As Judith Wahl, former Executive Director of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly has said, “the law is easy, it’s the human part that’s difficult”. Help us to help your family, friends and colleagues to understand the value of Advance Care Planning conversations.

If you have a story to share, we would love to hear from you. Contact us!