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April 16th is Advance Care Planning Day

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                      April 11, 2013

Vancouver, BC—With National Advance Care Planning Day approaching on Monday, April 16, Notaries Public across the province are encouraging British Columbians, especially baby boomers, to take charge of their own healthcare by planning for a time when they can’t make their own decisions.

“Expressing healthcare wishes in advance not only ensures your own wishes will be followed and helps minimize stress and conflict among friends and family; it also helps healthcare workers react more quickly and efficiently when a critical decision needs to be made immediately,” said John Eastwood, President of the Society of Notaries Public of B.C. and a South Delta Notary.

One of the more important tools to have in place is a Representation Agreement, which designates someone to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t speak for yourself.

“No one wants to end up in a situation where a personal guardian must be appointed by the Court and critical life decisions are made by a stranger but, as Notaries, we see this all too often,” said David Watts, a Notary in Vancouver. “People put off advance care planning and the result can be unnecessary stress for families or friends who are faced with decisions they’re not comfortable making, and often cannot agree upon..”

While ensuring one’s preferences are known and respected is and should be the primary motivator for advance care planning, it has social benefits as well.  Healthcare budgets are escalating and healthcare providers are often overworked and under-staffed. With baby boomers approaching a stage in life when they are more likely to need care, the squeeze on resources will inevitably increase.

“Advance care plans say what we want in terms of healthcare decisions and who we want to make those decisions,” said Laurie Salvador, a Notary in Sidney. “Most importantly, friends and family can be confident in the medical procedures they do or do not choose for their loved one.”

What is Advance Care Planning?

The process of considering and documenting your healthcare preferences is called advance care planning.  Everyone should have a plan, which could include:

  1. A discussion with those likely to be there when your need arises (family, caregiver, physician, close friends).
  2. A statement of expressed wishes for future healthcare will assist your decision maker in making plans or knowing what to do for end of life decisions in case you cannot express yourself at the time.
  3. A Representation Agreement
  4. A Power of Attorney
  5. A Will
  6. An Advance Directive if you have decided not to rely on others to make decisions for you

How to create your Advance Care Plan:

BC Notaries are professionally trained and have extensive experience in helping clients develop advance care plans and recommend the following approach:

  1. Inform yourself about options and decisions.  It starts with a conversation and some self education. It’s not hard and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.  You can gather information from several excellent resources.
  2. Decide how decisions will be made if you can’t make them.
  3. Next, have a conversation with your physician so you understand how certain key decisions could affect you, considering your personal health conditions.
  4. Have another conversation with those family members who you want to be involved in your future care planning. Or ask a close friend if they will fill this role for you and make a Representation Agreement.  You may also want to discuss available resources for future care needs.

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