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April 23, 2020

There is a way to make sure you have a say in future decisions about your health care if there comes a time when you are not able to speak for yourself. This is called advance care planning. Given the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to have this discussion and plan in place is even more imperative.

Why do I need an Advanced Care Plan?

Advance care planning is a way to help you think through and talk about your values and wishes in relation to your future healthcare. People who think through and talk about what is important to them can have a greater quality of life and are more likely to get the care they want. Advanced care planning can help your family feel more able and less anxious about making your wishes and medical choices known to your health care team if you cannot.

How Do I Start?

Think about what makes your life meaningful

Decide on you Substitute Decision Marker (SDM). This is the person that you trust and can make future health and personal care decisions if you cannot.

Talk about your values and wishes with your SDM, family, close friends, doctor and other healthcare providers.

What is an advance care planning conversation?

An opportunity to reflect on and discuss your values, beliefs and wishes as they relate to you future health care needs.

An ongoing discussion that can happen at various stages in your life.

It is important to include your Substitute Decision Maker when thinking about and discussing your values. It is important to have a written record of who your SDM is and your wishes.

What is a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) and how do choose an SDM?

Your SDM may be asked to decide about medications, surgery or life support.

Your SDM is the person who the health care team will rely on to learn your wishes and health choices if you cannot speak for yourself.

By law, every person in Ontario already has an SDM. For most people their SDM will be their closest living family member starting with Spouse/Partner.

Your SDM should be someone you can talk to, who you trust and who knows you and your values.

Think about whether the SDM will make the medical choices you would make for yourself

Your SDM should be able and willing to take on this role.

Resources available to help:

Speak Up Ontario Website

Dying with Dignity Website

UHN Advanced Care Planning website

Advocacy Centre for the Elderly website

Ministry of Attorney General for Province of Ontario website for information about living wills and power of attorney for health

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Etobicoke, ON M8V 2Z5