Glossary – Commonly used terms in Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is a process of:

  • thinking about your values, beliefs, and wishes for future health and personal care, and
  • sharing them with the people you trust.

It can include choosing who would make care decisions for you if you cannot.

Advance Care Planning can help you get the care that’s right for you, even if you’re unable to speak for yourself.

Advance Care Plan

A record of your values, beliefs, wishes and instructions about your future health and personal care, for use when you are not able to make decisions.

Your plan can be written down, audio/video recorded or spoken. You may also include written legal documents such as an Advance Directive and Representation Agreement

Advance Directive

A legal document that records your instructions for accepting or refusing specific health-care treatments. An Advance Directive gives instructions to your health-care provider at a time when you need health care but aren’t capable of providing consent.


In health care, being capable means you can:

  • understand the information provided about the treatment offered, its purpose, benefits and risks; and
  • make a decision to receive (consent to) or refuse that treatment.

You may become incapable at points in your life due to illness, disability or accident. It may be temporary or permanent.

Being capable or not is often assessed by your health-care provider.

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

A procedure used in an emergency if you stop breathing or your heart has stopped. Somebody presses on your chest and may blow air into your lungs to try to restore the flow of oxygen in your body.

In health care, consent is agreeing to or refusing a test or treatment.

Comfort Care

Health care treatments that focus on making you comfortable by controlling symptoms.

Comfort care is always provided, but can become the only focus towards end of life. Examples include using medications treat reduce pain, anxiety, and constipation.


One or more people appointed by the B.C. Supreme Court to make personal, medical, legal or financial decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapable of making decisions for yourself.

A committee of person makes personal and medical decisions.

It is pronounced caw-mi-TEE

Enduring Power of Attorney

A legal document that you can use to appoint someone to make decisions about your financial and legal affairs. It remains active even if you are not mentally capable.

Family and friends

We use family and friends to describe the people that matter most to you, and who you trust.

Health care

Tests, examinations, treatments and procedures related to your health.

Health-care provider

A trained professional who can legally provide health care.

Examples of a health-care provider include a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse or social worker.

In health care, informed consent is agreeing to a treatment when you understand its purpose, benefits, and risks.

Life-prolonging treatments

Life-prolonging treatments prolong your life after failure of one or more organs or diagnosis of a serious illness. It does not involve resuscitation or life support to keep you alive.

Examples include radiation and chemotherapy for cancer, dialysis for kidney disease, feeding tubes.

Life-support treatments

Resuscitation and other treatments to keep you alive after failure of one or more vital organs. Without these treatments your body would not function.

Examples include Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and using ventilators.

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) is a medical procedure available to eligible patients who wish to voluntarily end their life with the assistance of a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST)

An optional medical order completed with your doctor or nurse practitioner to document which life-support treatments you would want to receive (including CPR), and the level of care you should receive (for example, whether you should be admitted to hospital or intensive care).

It is commonly used in hospitals and care homes to help health-care providers understand the treatments you prefer, and to know what to do in an emergency. It does not replace informed consent.

MedicAlert bracelet

MedicAlert identification helps first responders know about your pre-existing medical or cognitive conditions, medications you are taking, or any allergies you may have. They can proceed to treat you based on information provided to them through the MedicAlert system.

Natural Death

When used in Advance Care Planning, the phrase “allow a natural death” refers to decisions not to have any treatment or procedure that will delay the moment of death. It applies only when death is about to happen from natural causes such as age, health condition or illness.

No CPR Form

A medical order that allows you (or your substitute decision maker if you are not capable) to refuse CPR if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.

If you have a No CPR order that is visible and signed, you will not be given CPR by first responders or other health-care providers.

Organ donation

Removing healthy organs and tissues from one person and placing these organs or tissues into another person.

Notice of Revocation

A legal document that allows you to cancel permissions previously given by you to someone else to act on your behalf.

In Advance Care Planning you can use a Notice of Revocation to cancel a Representation Agreement.

Personal-care decisions

Choices about your daily life, such as where you live, diet, clothing, hygiene, and activities.


The person appointed by you in a Representation Agreement.

Representation Agreement

A legal document in which you name someone, called a Representative, to make personal-care and health-care decisions for you, if you can’t make these decisions on your own.

There are two types of Representation Agreements:

Section 9 (Enhanced) – can be used by a capable person to name a Representative to make personal-care and health-care decisions, including decisions about life support and life- prolonging treatments.

Section 7 (Standard) – can be used by a person with lessened capability to appoint a Representative who can provide routine management of the person’s financial affairs, legal affairs, personal care, and minor and major health care.


Your husband or wife, or someone you are living with in a marriage-like relationship.

For health-care decisions, it does not matter how long you and your spouse have been living together.

Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM)

Someone identified by your health-care provider to make health-care decisions for you if you are not capable and do not have a Representative or Committee. B.C. law provides a list that defines who your health-care provider must choose to make health-care decisions for you.

Substitute Decision Maker (SDM)

Someone who makes your health-care decisions when you can’t provide consent. In BC, a Substitute Decision Maker can be appointed by you (a Representative), by the court (Committee) or identified by your health-care provider from a list (Temporary Substitute Decision-maker, TSDM).

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