On January 27, 2021, Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) sat down with Susan Desjardins, Board Member, and one of the founding members of the DWDC Ottawa Chapter, for a one-hour webinar on Advance Care Planning. This blog post summarizes some of the key takeaways from that presentation.
If you prefer to view this content in video format, the full webinar recording can be accessed here.
Key Takeaway #1: Advance Care Planning is at the heart of being an empowered patient or caregiver.
At all ages and stages of life, it is important for adults to consider Advance Care Planning. By clearly identifying your wishes before you become unable to communicate for yourself, you are reducing the burden of decision-making on others, and ensuring peace of mind for yourself.
Key Takeaway #2: Talking to others, sharing concerns and considerations about potential health care situations, can help in your Advance Care Planning process.
Whether you meet someone at a Dying With Dignity Canada workshop, or you have a friend or neighbour who shares your interest in Advance Care Planning, partnering up can provide mutual accountability and motivation.
Key Takeaway #3: Your wishes — as expressed by your Substitute Decision-Maker — generally have to be respected. But this may not always be the case.
Circumstances may arise that you didn’t plan for. Consider what would happen in an emergency situation if your Substitute Decision-Maker was not available, and your Advance Directive could not be found. We recommend having conversations early and often with your loved ones and health care team, and attaching a note to your fridge or in your wallet with directions on where to find your Advance Directive.
Key Takeaway #4: If you have more than one Substitute Decision-Maker, consider appointing them independently.
Appointing two Substitute Decision-Makers (SDM) to act jointly means that they will both have to be contacted and in agreement before a decision can be made. This can lead to disagreements and delays in your care. Instead, appointing your Substitute Decision-Makers to act independently means that your primary SDM will be contacted first, and if they cannot be reached, your secondary SDM will provide guidance.
These are just a few of the insights gathered from our January webinar, “Introduction to Advance Care Planning.” To learn more, watch the full webinar.