Advanced Care Planning – Are You Prepared?

Enjoying morning coffee, I sit in quiet contemplation. Perhaps the Easter weekend or the peacefulness that envelops the morning allows me to pen my thoughts about transformation. Covid-19, the pandemic, is transforming our lives and we know the way to manage change;is to prepare. How prepared are we when it comes to our own advanced care? In all honesty, one would think the discussion of Advanced Care Planning would come easy for me, especially with my nursing background and now as an End of Life Doula. Not so, It’s difficult to put into words, but there is no greater time to lay the cards on the table and have this conversation.

Advance Care Planning is providing the necessary information to those who will be responsible for your future care, in the event you are unable to speak for yourself. You may have heard the terms; Will, Power of Attorney, Goals of Care and Personal Directive. A will only comes into effect upon a person’s death and the Power of Attorney speaks to finances and property. The latter two documents, Goals of Care and Personal Directive encompass your Advanced Care Plan. Goals of Care is a medical order and must be signed by a physician. It tells medical personnel what medical interventions you would lie in the event you cannot communicate with them. The Personal Directive is the focus of this conversation and it allows you to assign “an agent”, a trusted person, to speak on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. The “agent”, through prior conversation and documentation with you, will know your values, beliefs and wishes and is the point person to ensure that these are carried out.

We must bring the reality to light and it’s not easy. In the event of a Covid-19 diagnosis or any other health event that ultimately results in hospitalization, you will be physically taking this journey on your own. Wouldn’t it be a comfort knowing that you have your “agent” in place and all your values, wishes and beliefs documented? Not only documented, but you have an assigned advocate. The comfort for yourself and your family is immeasurable.

In Alberta, we are fortunate to have access to Advanced Care planning forms that are packaged in a “Green Sleeve”. These plastic green sleeves, or folders hold our Goals of Care and our Personal Directives and we take them in the event we are taken to the hospital. Think of it like a medical passport. You may ask your physician for a Green Sleeve or in light of Covid-19, you may go to and Alberta Health Services will send you up to four. Another great resource is the document “Who Will Speak For You“. It is an easy to follow working document that includes thought-provoking scenarios to allow reflection and to open discussion with your family on “what would I do?”

There is no legal requirement in Alberta to have a Personal Directive, however it is recommended for anyone 18 years of age or older. There is no greater gift for you or your family to have your wishes, values and beliefs documented and be able to have a trusted person assigned as your “agent”. One who can speak for you.

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Originally published in the High Country News