financial advisor

As adults, we make decisions every day from very simple to more complex choices. We plan ahead for a special vacation, a birth, a trip to the grocery store…an important thing you may not have thought about planning for is your health care future.

Do you help individuals plan for their future? Are you:

  • A lawyer

  • A human resource professional

  • A financial planner

  • A faith leader

Do you offer supports, services or programs for:

  • Older adults

  • Employees

  • Caregivers

  • Faith communities

If the answer is yes, you are well-positioned to help people understand Advance Care Planning. Given the aging population, more and more people are seeking out information and resources for themselves and their loved ones.People trust you and look to you for suggestions and advice about a myriad of topics and Advance Care Planning should be one of them.

Advance Care Planning in Ontario is different from other provinces and involves people:

  1. Identifying their future Substitute Decision Maker(s) or SDM(s) and,

  2. Having conversations about what is important them.

Why should I talk to my clients, employees, community about Advance Care Planning?

We all hope to be able to make our own health care decisions until the end; however, many of us will need someone to make health care decisions for us at some point in our life.

Advance Care Planning helps people determine who will make their health care decisions for them (their SDMs) and encourages conversations about their wishes, values and beliefs.  By helping people identify their SDM(s), and by encouraging them to have conversations with them you are helping your clients be better prepared for a time when they might not be able to make their own health care decisions.

Prior to participating… the Power of Attorney for Personal Care was the document with the least focus on it during planning discussions.  It was the “warm up” to the financial discussions.  Now the Power of Attorney of Personal Care generates the most discussion with clients because we don’t just talk about appointing a Substitute Decision Maker(s), we talk about what happens next.

Waterloo Wellington Lawyer

What is an SDM(s) and who can be one? 

An SDM(s) is the person(s) who will make health care decisions on a patient’s behalf if they are unable to make their own decisions.

In Ontario, by law, everyone has an automatic SDM(s). The Health Care Consent Act provides a hierarchy list of SDM(s). It is important that we all know who this is OR choose another.  When a health care decision is needed, and a person is not mentally capable to make their own decisions, informed consent must come from the person(s) who is highest on list and meets the requirements to act:

What sorts of decisions may an SDM(s) have to make? 

An SDM(s) only step in, when a patient is not mentally capable to make their own decisions. The types of decisions an SDM(s) may have to make can vary, but may include decisions about:

  • Long-term care placement

  • Various health care decisions such as,

    • Consent or refuse tests, procedures, surgery
    • Begin or withdraw life-prolonging measures
    • Who will provide medical care
    • Speak with health care professionals
    • Admit or discharge from medical facility
    • Look at medical information
  • Personal Assistance Services

What if someone is not happy with who their automatic SDM(s) will be?

It’s okay. You can choose!  If a person wants someone different than their automatic SDM(s) they can appoint someone else in a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. Read more about Powers of Attorney for Personal Care at Community Legal Education Ontario or the Ministry of the Attorney General.

What should people share with their SDM(s)?

Conversations get things started, and help people to share important information about who they are, what is important to them and how they hope to be cared for in the future.  These conversations will guide SDM(s) to make healthcare decisions that are based on the choices their loved one would make. Here are a few questions to help people start the conversation:

  • What is important to you?

  • Do you have spiritual beliefs that are important to consider?

  • What brings quality to your life?

  • What do I need to know about you to ensure that you get the kind of care you would want?

  • What is a good day for you?

Check out this workbook to help others get started

Is Advance Care Planning just for people at end of life ?

No, not at all. Advance Care Planning applies to everyone. While end of life is an obvious trigger for these conversations, starting them earlier is ideal. We cannot predict when illness or accidents may happen and affect our ability to make decisions. So, it’s important to start these conversations early so that your clients, employees and the larger community know who their SDM(s) is,  and are confident that their SDM(s) have the information they need to make healthcare decisions on their behalf.

It’s important to talk about ACP in the workplace because it’s about wellness. We focus on employee wellness when we talk  finances, employee benefits, health, mental health…ACP is just another component of wellness in the workplace

Waterloo Wellington HR Professional

How can I make ACP a part of the work I do?

#1 Ask your clients…Have you ever thought about who would be the best person to make decisions on your behalf if you got sick or were too ill to make your own decisions?

Get them thinking about their SDM(s) and help them to understand what this means.  Show them the hierarchy, and explain how it works in Ontario. The first step of Advance Care Planning is having people  identify their SDM(s) and determine if they need to complete any legal documentation to get anything in place

#2 Educate about the role of SDM(s)

Educate people about how health care decisions are made in Ontario, and by whom. Explain the role of SDM(s) and talk about the qualities of a good SDM(s) (e.g. trustworthy, can make difficult decisions, willing to honour your wishes).

#3 Host an education session & have printed resources available

Make this information easily accessible to your clients, employees and larger community. Why not host an education session by contacting us or putting correct Ontario resources on display in your foyer, lunch room or waiting areas.

Check out our resources for workbooks, videos and other tools to help you get started!