What is Advanced Care Planning?

Written By Heather Griffin, Registered Practical Nurse
In Ontario, Advanced Care Planning is a discussion that an individual has with their physician, spouse/partner, family or friends that outlines their values, wishes and beliefs in the event that they could not speak for themselves. Many people feel that speaking about their wishes prior to having a life limiting illness may worry or frighten their loved ones, however doing so can eliminate the possibility of having your loved one guess as to what your wishes would be as well as can often decrease the possibility of disagreements between family members.
During ACP (advanced care planning) it is very important to determine who would be your SDM (substitute decision maker).  In Ontario, your substitute decision maker is someone who would make personal and medical decisions on your behalf if you could not do so on our own. You can decide who you want to appoint as your SDM, however the Health Care Consent Act has a predetermined hierarchy should you not appoint someone of your choosing. The individual who ranks highest in this hierarchy (picture below) and who meets the requirements to act as a substitute decision maker will be your automatic SDM if you do not appoint one.
Once you decide who you would like to have as your SDM, it is very important to advise that person and confirm that they agree to speak on your behalf if you can not do so.
Join our Seniors’ Wellness Webinars, every first Thursday of the month, at 1 pm via Zoom. For more information on the webinar topics, please visit our Calendar of Events: www.cbfht.ca/events
For further information regarding ACP and SDM, please visit the Speak Up Ontario website:
The Substitute Decision Maker Hierarchy