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Advance Care Planning

We understand that thinking and talking about living and dying can be a difficult and emotional process. These conversations are not easy, but they are essential. Yet if we do not go through the process of Advance Care Planning then it will be difficult for our family members and loved ones to carry out our wishes if we are unable to speak for ourselves.

We are here to help support you through this process. 

Scroll down to the end of this page for ACP Resources and Events.


What is Advance care Planning (ACP)?

Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences and wishes if you are unable to consent or refuse treatment or other care. Advance Care Planning is also thinking about options around housing and residency that may work into your health and lifestyle in later years.

Advance Care Planning may include thinking about information about specific treatments that you do or do not want to have (such as cardiac resuscitation or mechanical ventilation), as well as other information about your care at the end of life (for example, religious or spiritual rituals, being able to see a family member, dying at home or hospice).

Some terms to keep in mind:

It is important to have discussions with family and friends, especially your Substitute Decision Maker – the person who will speak for you when you cannot. This may include writing down your wishes and may even involve talking with healthcare providers and financial and legal professionals. A written advance care plan may also be called an Advance Health Care Directive, a Medical Directive or a Living Will that can be an addendum to your Power of Attorney for Personal Care.


What is Substitute Decision Maker?

If you cannot make your own health care decisions (not capable) and a medical treatment or shelter decision is offered, someone will be needed to speak on your behalf – the SDM. A ranking order of the people who qualify to speak on your behalf is set out in the Ontario Health Care Consent Act. If you appoint a Power of Attorney for Personal Care they will be at the top of the ranking list.

A Substitute Decision Maker will be responsible for:

  • Making medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make your own health care decisions
  • Deciding on care facilities should you require assistance
  • Ensure your personal care needs are meet (clothing, food, transportation etc.)
  • Fostering previous relationships you have had with others
  • Can refer to written documents/plans, such as your Advance Health Care Directive, to communicate, advocate and make decisions on your behalf
  • Should understand your wishes and have a copy of your most recently directives
  • They may need help or support from your family and friends when deciding on your behalf if they are unclear what you would want


Key Steps in Advance Care Planning

  1. Think about what matters most to you; your values and wishes and how they influence your health preferences, specific rituals around your end of life care.
  2. Learn about specific medical treatments, options of care, and future housing options that fit into your lifestyle in later years.
  3. Decide on who will speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.
  4. Talk with others about your future health priorities and personal care.
  5. Record and share your wishes so others will be confident to make decisions on your behalf when you are not able to.


DBKH Resources

  1. ACP Wallet Card
  2. ACP Steps (Flyer)
  3. ACP Workbook (PDF)


Upcoming Events (Stay tuned for April 2024 events)

  • 3-Step Self-Paced Workshop
    • Instructions:
      • Download the session slides (below).
      • Read & watch the resources mentioned on the slides and answers the reflection questions at your own pace. We recommend giving a week for each session so you have sufficient time to think it over and have conversations with your friends and families.
      • At the end of the workshop, you’ll have peace of mind with your Advance Care Plan completed.
    • Workshop Slides (PDF):

ACP information on this page is based on Advance Care Planning Canada, which can be found on and is created in collaboration with Sandra Andreychuk, Health Care Consultant/Ethicist (