Who needs to know?

By Ariela Friedmann, Communications Manager, BC Centre for Palliative Care

Have you ever wondered who you should talk to about your wishes for your future health care – really asking yourself, who needs to know?

Answering these questions is known as Advance Care Planning (ACP) – a process that supports you and your family to prepare to make decisions about your future health care. It involves understanding and sharing your values, beliefs and wishes regarding health and personal care.

This information is used during conversations with health-care providers about the treatments and care you receive, to help you get the care that’s right for you.

Take Russ Cook’s story.

The British Columbian was strong, fit and healthy. An avid skier and road cyclist. But at age 58, he unexpectedly collapsed and ended in a coma. His family rushed to his side. After the medical diagnosis was known, his wife Karen knew what to do.

You see, she had an incredible gift of love from her husband of nearly 33 years – a gift that enabled her to make a decision on his behalf without conflict or guilt: He had expressed his wishes to family and friends should something medically catastrophic happen. He had an Advance Care Plan.

“It was an incredible gift to me that I didn’t have to second guess what he wanted, or if I would be doing the right thing,” recalls Karen. “In the chaos, the trauma, the overwhelming emotional turmoil, it created clarity when our lives were turned inside out.”

You can read more about Karen and Russ’ story on our website at www.bc-cpc.ca/acp.

April 16 marks Advance Care Planning Day across North America.

It’s a day to remind you to ask yourself, “Who needs to know?” By doing so, you’re realizing that you need to have conversations with your family and health-care providers (such as your family doctor and pharmacist). This will be your “team” – led by your Substitute Decision Maker – that will to make decisions for you if you cannot.

Read about the steps to effective Advance Care Planning on our website at www.bc-cpc.ca/acp.