Advance Care Planning

In Ontario Advance Care Planning Involves Two Steps

Step 1: Deciding who will make future health care decisions for you if you are unable to – this will be your Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM) and in Ontario there are two ways to determine your SDM:

  1. Confirming your automatic future SDM from the hierarchy (a ranking list in the Health Care Consent Act) OR
  2. Choosing someone else to act as SDM by preparing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (a legal document)

Step 2: Discussing with your SDM (and others) your wishes, values and beliefs, and anything else that will help your SDM understand how you would like to be cared for in the event you are mentally incapable of making health care decisions for yourself.

My children don’t really want to hear me talk about it. I’m sure they think it is so far in the future that it won’t happen to me but in my experience with my own parents [I] know it will and it happens before you know it

Waterloo Wellington Resident

Why is Advance Care Planning Important?

Research suggests that the benefits of Advance Care Planning can include improved satisfaction with health care received and decreased stress, anxiety and depression for the SDM. 1,2

1Detering, KM, Hancock, AD, Reade, MC, and Silvester, W. 2010. The Impact of advance care planning on end of life care in elderly patients: randomized controlled trial. BMJ, 340:c1345
2Heyland, DK, Allan DE, Rocher G, Dodek, P, Pichora D, Gafni A. 2009. Discussing prognosis with patients and their families near the end of life. Impact on satisfaction with end of life care. Open Med, 3(20), 71-80

92% of local Waterloo Wellington residents believe Advance Care Planning will make it easier for loved ones

Community Survey 2015

It’s never too early.

Before we make decisions, we have conversations.  We often talk about what is important to us in planning for our children’s education, family  weddings,  our own vacations , retirement, and even a trip to the store.  We also need to have conversations about the kind of health care we want when we are seriously ill or at the end of our life.

Advance Care Planning conversations happen over a lifetime because you may change your mind about what is important.  As  your priorities change, your health changes, and even health care options/choices change what is important to you may also change and your SDM needs to know.

Your SDM may be asked to make significant health care decisions on your behalf, at a time of high emotion and despair so start these conversations early, before a health care crisis. Conversations Worth Having now  can provide comfort for you and your loved ones later on.

These are conversations worth having…


You and Your Loved Ones

Health Care Providers

Community Professionals