What is National Advance Care Planning Day?

By: Audrey R. Miller MSW, RSW,CCRC, CCLCP
Printed online @ CARP, April 10, 2012

I know about the importance of communicating to loved ones, friends and physicians about ones’ own future health care wishes and end of life care. The question is, what do you know about it? We all have choices and it is imperative that we vocalize them before we are no longer able to. April 16, 2012 is the Annual National Advance Care Planning Day
This is a day to begin a conversation with a loved one about their wishes for end of life care – or it might remind you to review your own plan. For those of you who have heard any of my presentations, a key message is about having the family meeting- having the talk. As difficult as it may be, it is critical that your own wishes are known- so they can be followed.

What is 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 you become incapable of consenting to or
refusing treatment or other care. Advance care planning means having discussions with family and friends, especially your Substitute Decision Maker – the person who will speak for you when you cannot. It could also include writing down your wishes, and may even involve talking with healthcare providers and financial and legal professional.

The Speak Up campaign was developed to raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning, as well as the issues related to an aging population, a strained health care system and end of life care. The Speak Up campaign reminds Canadians to think about and talk about their end of life wishes. It can also: Help improve the quality of end of life care – Research indicates that Canadians with advance care plans require fewer interventions at the end of life, place less of a strain on caregivers and are more likely to take advantage of hospice resources or die at home. They and their caregivers report greater satisfaction with end of life care.

Improve communication and access to information about end of life care across the country – The Speak Up campaign begins a national conversation about planning for end of life care by providing access to shared tools and terminology for Canadians, making it easier for them to share their preferences with family, financial and legal professionals, friends and health professionals, no matter where they live.
Why plan for end-of-life care?
While most of us hope that we will die peacefully and able to communicate with loved ones until the very end, the simple fact is that most deaths do not occur this way. According to a 2004 poll conducted by Ipso-Reid on behalf of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and GlaxoSmithKline, eight in ten of Canadians agreed that people should start planning for end of life when they are healthy. But:
• 70% of Canadians had not prepared a living will or advance care plan
• 47% of Canadians had not designated a Substitute Decision Maker to make healthcare decisions for them if they are unable
• Fewer than 44% Canadians had discussed end-of-life care with a family member.
(Advance Care Planning Worksheet)

I enjoyed Mark Handelman’s blog “What Wishes Should a Power of Attorney for Personal Care Express posted on April 5, 2012 on the Whaley Estate website and have linked it here for your reading pleasure. It provides some very beneficial information. April 16th- count yourself in.
-Audrey Miller

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