community professionals

Do you help clients plan for their future? Are you:

  • A Lawyer?
  • A Financial Planner?
  • An Insurance Broker/Agent?

Do you offer supports, services or programs for:

  • Older adults
  • Caregivers
  • Vulnerable people
  • Faith communities

If the answer is yes, you are well-positioned to help people understand Advance Care Planning.  People trust you and look to you for suggestions and advice about a myriad of topics. One topic that is at the top of mind for a lot of people is planning for end-of-life. Given the aging population, more and more people are seeking out information and resources for themselves and their loved ones.

What is Advance Care Planning in Ontario?

Step 1: Identify your Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM)

Ask yourself who you would want to make health care decisions on your behalf if you were unable to do so? This will be your SDM.

In Ontario there are two ways to identify your SDM:

  1. Confirm 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)

Video used with permission from Speak Up.

Step 2: Talk with your SDM & Others

The best way to be prepared is to discuss 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.

Why should I talk about Advance Care Planning with my clients?

More than half of us will not have the mental capacity to make our own health care decisions at the end of our life.1 Advance Care Planning helps people determine who will make their health care decisions for them (their SDM) and encourages conversations about their wishes, values and beliefs. This has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression among SDMs and increases the satisfaction with the health care received.2

By helping your clients identify their SDM and by encouraging them to have conversations with them about their wishes, values and beliefs, you are helping your clients be better prepared in the event they are mentally incapable of making their own health care decisions.

1 Ontario Medical Association – Advance Care Planning: backgrounder OMA’s End-of-Life Strategy April 2014
2 Detering, 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

What role can I play?

Below are some suggestions of how you can help your clients gain a better understanding of Advance Care Planning:

      1. Explore and understand Advance Care Planning for yourself 
      2. Ask them if they have identified their Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM) either through the SDM hierarchy or by completing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care
      3. If you are helping clients to decide who they want as their SDM consider asking your clients the following questions:
        • Do you trust this person (SDM) to make decisions the way you want them to be made even if they do not agree with your choices?
        • Will this person be open to having conversations about your wishes, values and beliefs as they relate to health and end-of-life care?
        • Is this person able to make decisions under stress?
      1. Ask them to complete the SDM wallet card and keep in their wallet
      1. Encourage your clients to have conversations with their SDM and loved ones about their values, wishes and beliefs. The process doesn’t stop upon signing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, it is just the beginning!
      1. Help your clients understand the role of the Substitute Decision-Maker
      1. Host an education session about Advance Care Planning by contacting us
      1. Display Advance Care Planning materials in your foyer, waiting room and office