Is health care on the list of discussion topics? Canada’s Advance Care Planning in Canada project is encouraging Canadians to put that important subject at the top of the list this holiday season– and to share the gift of knowledge with family and friends.
“Imagine, one day, without any warning, you find yourself in a hospital in a life-threatening situation, unable to communicate,” asks Louise Hanvey, the Project Director for the Speak Up campaign. “Who would speak for you and make health care decisions on your behalf? Would they know what you’d want?”
Advance Care Planning is a process that involves letting others know about your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care. Research has shown that advance care planning significantly reduces stress, depression and anxiety in family members and caregivers and can also reduce unwanted treatments.
The Speak Up Campaign offers five steps for sharing your wishes with others:
1. THINK about what’s important to you about your care
2. LEARN about different medical procedures and what they can or can’t do for you
3. CHOOSE a substitute decision maker – someone who is willing and able to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself
4. TALK about your wishes with your loved ones
5. RECORD your wishes with an advance care plan
Tools for all of these steps are available at the Speak Up website: www.advancecareplanning.ca
“No one wants to leave loved ones with the burden of having to guess about important healthcare decisions,” says Sharon Baxter, the Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. “The holiday season is the perfect time to sit down together to share this gift of knowledge – and peace of mind.”