Advance Care Plans: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

An advance care plan is a legal way to state your wishes at the end of your life. It tells your family and your doctor what to do if you can no longer say what you want.

An advance care plan tells your family and doctor your wishes about life support and other medical treatment. An advance care plan also allows you to appoint a person (called a substitute decision-maker or a health care agent) who can make treatment decisions for you when you can't speak for yourself.

If you do not have an advance care plan, decisions about your medical care may be made by someone who doesn't know you or what you would want.

It may help to think of an advance care plan as a gift to the people who care for you. If you have one, they won't have to make tough decisions by themselves.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Discuss your wishes with your loved ones and your doctor. This way, there are no surprises.
  • Each province has different guidelines for advance care plans. Make sure you follow the rules of the province or territory where you live.
  • You don't need a lawyer to do an advance care plan. But you may want to get legal advice.
  • Think about these questions when you prepare an advance care plan:
    • Who do you want to make decisions about your medical care if you are not able to? Many people choose a family member or close friend.
    • Do you know enough about life support methods that might be used? If not, talk to your doctor so you understand.
    • What are you most afraid of that might happen? You might be afraid of having pain, losing your independence, or being kept alive by machines.
    • Where would you prefer to die? Choices include your home, a hospital, a nursing home, or a hospice palliative care centre.
    • Would you like to have information about hospice palliative care to support you and your family?
    • Do you want to donate organs when you die?
    • Do you want certain religious practices performed before you die? If so, put your wishes in the advance care plan.
  • Read your advance care plan every year, and make changes as needed.

When should you call for help?

Be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any questions.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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