Learning that these types of conversations are valuable and important to not only your own life, but to the lives of others around you and your loved ones

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

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

  2. Having conversations about what is important you.

Why do I need to do 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 can help prepare you and your Substitute Decision-Maker(s) (SDMs) for a time when your SDM(s) needs to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapable.

What does being capable to make my own decisions mean?

According to the Health Care Consent Act you are mentally capable if you have both: The ability to understand the information that is relevant to the decision to be made, and the ability to appreciate the reasonable foreseeable consequences of a decision or lack of decision.

And, who decides this?

For treatment decisions, the health care provider proposing the treatment will decide this.

Who is my automatic SDM(s)?

Your SDM(s) is the person(s) who will make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.

In Ontario, by law, you have an automatic SDM(s). It is important to know who that is OR choose another. Your automatic SDM(s) by law, is the person in your life WHO ranks highest on the list below:

How do I decide who should be my SDM(s)?

Remember, your SDM(s) is the person(s) who will make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.  Some things to think about when choosing your SDM(s) are:

  • Do you trust this person to make decisions the way you want them to be made even if they do not agree with your choices?

  • Will this person be open to talking to you about what you will want for your health care?

  • Is this person able to make decisions under stress?

What sort of thing will my SDM(s) decide?

Your SDM(s) will only make the decisions that you are mentally incapable of making.  They will make decisions and give consent 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

Gehan, a 78 year old widow, had named one of her daughters in her Power of Attorney for Personal Care. She told her daughter that she did not want, under any circumstance, to be put on life support – no matter what. Her daughter said “well, Mom, I am going to do whatever it takes to keep you alive as long as possible, so if I have to put you on life support I will”. Gehan decided to remove her daughter from her Power of Attorney for Personal Care document and name her son, who assured her that he would follow her wishes. It is all about  having your voice heard, even if your SDM(s) does not agree with your wishes.

Not happy with who your automatic SDM(s) will be?

It’s okay. You can choose!  If you want someone different than your automatic SDM(s), you can name 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 Ministry of the Attorney General.

What should I talk about with my SDM(s)?

Conversations get things started, and help you to share important info about yourself, your wishes, values and beliefs. This information will help to guide your SDM(s) to make healthcare decisions that are based on the choices that you would make. Provide your SDM(s) with info to become an expert on YOU! Here are a few questions to help you get started:

  • 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?

Download this workbook and start talking today!

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