April 16 is Advance Care Planning Day in Canada: Have the Talk!

When it comes to planning for your future health care, are you, your family and friends prepared? If you were sick and couldn’t speak for yourself, would they know your wishes?

All too often we assume people know what we’re thinking. The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” You might be surprised by the space between what you want for your future care and what your loved ones think you want.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to close this space: have a conversation.

Talk to those around you. Talk to your health care providers. Most importantly, talk to your substitute decision maker(s), the people who would make health care decisions in case you cannot speak for yourself; they need to know about your values, what is meaningful in your life, and how you would like decisions to be made. If you haven’t chosen a substitute decision maker, now is the time!

One of our priorities is to ensure that every older Canadians living with frailty with a life limiting diagnosis or chronic illness has an advance care plan (ACP). 

Canadian Frailty Network is proud to celebrate National ACP Day on April 16th and we hope that you will participate with us by sharing resources and having these important conversations with your team. If you go to www.advancecareplanning.ca, you can learn more about advance care planning and find free downloadable resources such as workbooks, videos, wallet cards and conversation starters. The website is run by the Advance Care Planning in Canada “Speak Up” initiative, dedicated to helping all Canadians start planning for their future care. You can find information about the different provincial/territorial legal requirements for advance care planning and designating substitute decision makers. There are also toolkits available for healthcare organizations and health professionals who wish to mark National Advance Care Planning Day with an event or activity.

So the question is: Do your loved ones know about your wishes? Until you talk to them, how will they know? There are many ways to get the conversation started! Remember, it may take a few attempts to get things started. Don’t feel like you have to have the entire conversation at once. You can test out their knowledge with a short, playful card-based game called, “How Well Do You Know Me?”, created by the Speak Up initiative. Sit with your loved ones or your substitute decision maker and ask any of the 10 questions in this not-so-trivial pursuit of clarifying your wishes and values for your future care. Make up your own hints, because it’s about encouraging everyone to learn and to ask questions.

Don’t leave your loved ones in the space between guessing and knowing: have a conversation. Make it a game to see who was paying attention. You can share inspiring conversations or card game results online using the hashtags #ACPDay2019 and #TheyKnowMeWell.

Read More About CFN’s Funded Work in ACP