People usually spend more time planning a birthday party than they do thinking about health care planning, especially around end-of-life care. They can find themselves trying to make important decisions in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Or, if they’re no longer able to speak for themselves, someone else might have to make those decisions for them.
“Nothing is more uncomfortable than a conversation about serious illness or death,” says Powell River Hospice Society manager Jackie Baker. “Over 50 per cent of Canadians have never talked about what they wish for at the end of life.
“Even when you’re young and in excellent health, accidents or unexpected illness can change everything in an instant. If you are living with a chronic disease you, too, know that circumstances can change quickly.”
Baker recommends that everyone of legal age should draw up an Advance Care Plan (ACP).
“Back in 2011, BC passed legislation which allows you to create a formal record of your wishes about the kind of medical care you’d like to receive if you can't speak for yourself,” she says. “It also allows you to appoint someone to work with health-care providers to make sure your wishes are respected.”
The hospice society is inviting people to register for one of two ACP online workshops scheduled for Thursday, April 15, or Wednesday, May 26, to find out how to better prepare for the unexpected. The workshops take place from 7 to 8:30 pm. Individual appointments are also available.
“The workshops will outline a process for discussing and documenting those wishes,” explains Baker.
Creating an advance care plan benefits people in three ways, according to Baker.
“First, you’re prepared when it becomes your turn; when you’re asked what treatments or emergency measures you want or don’t want, you’re not caught off guard” she says. “Second, if you’re not able to speak, your plan will help guide your family and health-care providers with a road map.
“Third, think of it as a gift to your loved ones. As well as helping them make hard decisions while you’re still alive, the grieving process will be easier after you’re gone if they know they’ve done what you wanted.”
Baker explains that people don’t need to worry about changing their mind.
“You can change your plan at any time,” she says. “And as long as you’re able to speak for yourself, you’ll be the one making the decisions.”
For more information or to register for a group or individual session, contact Jackie Baker at 604.223.7309 or email@example.com, or check out the website at prhospice.org.