The single biggest problem in communication…..ACP DAY 2019

the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place *

ACP DAY 2019 THEME:   The space between guessing and knowing can be closed with a conversation.

When it comes to planning for your future health care, are you, your loved ones prepared? If you were sick and couldn’t speak for yourself, would they know your wishes?

All too often we assume people know what we’re thinking. The Irish playwright *George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” You might be surprised by the space between what you want for your future care and what your loved ones think you want.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to close this space: have a conversation.

Talk to those around you and most importantly, talk to your substitute decision maker(s), the people who would make health care decisions in case you cannot speak for yourself; they need to know about your values, what is meaningful in your life, and how you would like decisions to be made. If you haven’t chosen a substitute decision maker, you can watch our short video to inform yourself    or contact me directly at Now is the time!

April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day, a day to promote conversations about your wishes and values for your future health care.  After completing a 3 year project on Advance Care Planning in Waterloo Wellington, we can help as we have resources which can be found on this website and we have a tremendous team of ACP Ambassadors that can bring an interactive presentation to any community group.    The legislation related to health care decision making does vary across provinces and you can visit the National Speak Up” initiative’s website for more information,  including tools, and prompts to help with starting these conversations.  Dr. Chad Hammond, Program Manager of the initiative says,

It’s commonplace to hear stories of people who were sure their loved ones knew what they wanted, but had never sat down to check with them and talk it out. When they finally did, they were quite shocked at what their family and friends had assumed. That first conversation can be a bit of a revelation for some, but loved ones are always grateful to have the opportunity to clarify things.”

So the question is: Do your loved ones know about your wishes? Until you talk to them, how will they know? There are many ways to get the conversation started and remember it may take more than one attempt to start talking. Don’t feel like you have to have the entire conversation at once. You can test out their knowledge with a short, playful card-based game called, “How Well Do You Know Me?” , created by the Speak Up initiative. Sit with your loved ones or your substitute decision maker and ask any of the 10 questions in this not-so-trivial pursuit of clarifying your wishes and values for your future care. Make up your own hints, because it’s about encouraging everyone to learn and to ask questions.

Don’t leave your loved ones in the space between guessing and knowing: have a conversation. Make it a game to see who was paying attention. You can share inspiring conversations or card game results online using the hashtags #ACPDay2019 and #TheyKnowMeWell.

In Waterloo  Wellington, our ACP Ambassadors have created a conversation café with a variety of ideas to incorporate into coffee time at your organization.   For more information or to request these resources connect with me at


For information on the national Speakup Campaign contact Chad Hammond at 1-800-668-2785 ext. 228 or by email at:

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is a member of the National Advance Care Planning Task Group, comprised of representatives from a number of organizations and professions across Canada.


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