These are challenging times filled with a great deal of uncertainty. However, during a pandemic you still have choice at end of life. This blog and accompanying COVID-19 ACP Toolkit will help you take action now. This guide will empower you to make your wishes known to your loved ones, and help you prepare your Advance Directive for use by health care professionals.
I was working as a cardiac nurse in BC during the SARS outbreak in 2003. The forecast was grim and we were all on high alert. Our fellow nurses and doctors, especially in Ontario, were becoming very ill and some had died. So, when I heard about the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan at the beginning of January, I was instantly alarmed. I’ve never been one to put blinders on, and I wanted to make sure I was aware and as prepared as I could be.
Since last fall, I’ve been working on the new provincial Advance Care Planning Toolkits with the Dying With Dignity Canada team. We have struggled with how to make discussions about values, beliefs, and preferences for future healthcare real and something adults would think about and put into action. Statistics show that few of us really think about our mortality and even fewer have discussions with our loved ones.
The ongoing situation abroad and here at home has revealed some intense developments. As COVID-19 continues to affect communities, healthcare practitioners have discovered that there is often no documentation to tell front-line clinicians what patients want regarding ventilators and other care. Healthcare providers are begging us to write down our wishes, but it’s not clear where to begin or how to structure them. At DWDC we have been working on this question for the last several weeks, and we’ve come up with a guide that is straightforward and something you can use – and that healthcare clinicians will be able to follow.
There is still a lot of deep thought, introspection, and discussions with loved ones needed on your part, but we hope it gives you somewhere to start. Let’s get to it. Because if not now, then when?
This toolkit was created collaboratively by Connie Jorsvik, National Advance Care Planning Coordinator; Maureen Aslin, Education Manager; and, Valerie Cooper MN, NP-Adult, CHPCN(C) Nurse Practitioner, Hospice Palliative Care Program South East Local Health Integration Network, Kingston.