Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Advance Care Planning Basics

April 11, 2022 Hospice Quinte Season 5 Episode 14
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Advance Care Planning Basics
Show Notes Transcript

** Please note:  this podcast mentions the April 2022 Advance Care Planning workshop offered by Hospice Quinte, which has now been completed **

Imagine for a moment that you were not able to speak for yourself. Who would you want to make decisions on your behalf? Do your family or friends know what your end-of-life wishes are? Many people think that because they have a will and perhaps even pre-planned their funeral that they have discussed advance care planning. However, advance care planning is actually about your health while you are still alive.  Find out more in this week's Changing Lives Podcast.

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You can listen to episodes of "Changing Lives"  on 91x FM each Monday (except for holidays) at 9:05am.  Hospice Quinte is grateful to the support that 91x FM provides in producing the "Changing Lives" podcast.

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.




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Most people avoid speaking about end-of-life issues because they are uncomfortable thinking about their own mortality, or it is too painful to imagine the death of their loved one. However, avoiding these conversations can lead to much more uncomfortable discussions at a critical point in a person’s illness. 

Imagine for a moment that you were not able to speak for yourself. Who would you want to make decisions on your behalf? Do your family or friends know what your end-of-life wishes are? Many people think that because they have a will and perhaps even pre-planned their funeral that they have discussed advance care planning. However, advance care planning is actually about your health while you are still alive. 

We naturally tend to think that we will all have a “good death”, and everything will be taken care of by our final will and testament. There is the possibility that you may need someone to make a difficult medical decision on your behalf at a time when you are not able to do so. Imagine how difficult it would be for your loved ones to decide about your medical treatment if they did not know what you would want yourself. That is why it is important to choose a Substitute Decision Maker or Power of Attorney for medical care who knows you well and will carry through your end-of-life wishes and make difficult decisions on your behalf. 

In Ontario there are two ways to determine who your Substitute Decision Maker is. When you create your will, your lawyer will most likely ask you to appoint a Power Of Attorney for property and one for health care. You do not need a lawyer to do this although it is a good idea to have a notarized copy available if there is any potential for disputes amongst your family. 

If you do not have a Power Of Attorney document, don’t panic.  Everyone has a Substitute Decision Maker, which is based in law through the Health Care Consent Act, and Substitute Decisions Act. There is a hierarchy of possible Substitute Decision Makers based on your family relations. However, if you do not have a Power Of Attorney, family members or a trusted friend to speak on your behalf, then as a last resort the Public Guardian and Trustee can be appointed to become your Substitute Decision Maker.

When appointing a Substitute Decision Maker it is important to discuss possible end-of-life topics such as admission to long-term-care and where you see living out the rest of your days. 

Your Substitute Decision Maker may also be called upon to give consent about medications and treatment options. Some of these decisions might be easy such as changing medication from Advil to Tylenol, but others may be quite difficult such as deciding if open heart surgery is worth the potential risk, or whether to remove you from life support. So, it is important for your Substitute Decision Maker to make decisions for you based on how you would have made them yourself, and not what “they” would want for you. When faced with a difficult decision they should ask themselves “What would mom say right now if she could speak?”. 

These are certainly not easy conversations to have, and it might take a few discussions to be able to determine what you would want at the end of your life. Set a time and place for these types of discussions with your loved ones in a place where you can talk freely amongst yourselves. Advance care planning discussions can spare your loved ones a lot of agonizing and despair in the future if they know exactly what you want. 

This April 16th is Advance Care Planning Day and Canadians are encouraged to set aside time from 6-8 p.m. to talk openly with family, friends, loved ones. The theme for this year’s Advance Care Planning Day is “Life happens - Be ready”. No matter how old you are, what you might expect, or plan - Life happens, and we need to be ready. Tell your family and friends what would be important to you in a health care emergency along with your values and wishes. 

If you need help starting these important conversations, visit Hospice Quinte’s website at HospiceQuinte-dot-ca to find advance care planning resources or stop by the Stan Klemencic Care Centre to pick up an Advance Care Planning Workbook.

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 110,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.