Advance care planning helps reduce stress

NANAIMO – Nanaimo Community Hospice Society is seeking to raise awareness about advance care planning.

The Nanaimo Community Hospice Society seeks to raise awareness about advance care planning.

The advance care plan follows the principles of a will, in that it prepares for the unexpected, and according to hospice volunteer Judy Hancock Holland, people of any age can draw one up by filling out online forms at the provincial government website.

People can designate who they want to make health care decisions for them in the event they are unable to do so and thanks to changes by the provincial government in 2011, notarization by a lawyer isn’t required. The person, along with two witnesses (in the same room) signing the document is all it takes to make a care plan legal.

“I think one of the really important first steps [for an advanced care plan] is to just sit down and think about what we actually would want and wouldn’t want,” said Holland.

“The next step, and it’s really important, is to have the discussion with our loved ones about what are wishes are … if we don’t have that conversation with our loved ones, the normal stress of a catastrophic, unexpected illness is made that much worse because they have to guess at what we might want.”

In the event a plan isn’t in place, there is a formal list of people who will be asked to become temporary decision makers.

According to Holland, the list is, in order: spouse, adult child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, another relative (by birth or adoption), a close friend, person immediately related by marriage and a person appointed by the office of the public guardian and trustee.

“For some people that may be just fine but for other people, they may not want their spouse making those decisions and they may not want their children making those decisions,” said Holland.

Holland will make a presentation on advanced care planning at an information session on Nov. 29 at 1 p.m. at the hospice house on 1080 St. George Cres. and hopes to clarify things for people in attendance – terms like living will, advanced directives and power of attorney will be discussed.

The session is free but space is limited and a spot can be reserved by calling 250-591-8811. More information sessions are being planned and Holland also said presentations can be made to community groups as well.