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.
Advance Care Planning can include choosing who would make care decisions for you if you cannot.
It can help you get the care that’s right for you, even if you’re unable to speak for yourself.
Advance Care Planning is part of life planning.
You might have done some other types of life planning already – such as preparing a will, saving for retirement or appointing a guardian for your child.
Advance Care Planning is another type of life planning… it’s planning ahead for your future health and personal care.
Learn About Advance Care Planning
Your Rights and Legal Options
Create Your Plan
When should I start advance care planning?
We encourage every adult British Columbian to consider an advance care plan. You might not need it for many years, but as they say, life happens. If you are ever too injured or ill (even temporarily) to speak for yourself in a medical situation, your advance care plan will give your family, friends and care providers peace of mind when they know your wishes when it comes to health care. If you are new to ACP, check out our introduction page, and if you’re ready to get started, check out 3 Simple Steps.
Do I need a lawyer?
The short answer is no, you don’t need to have a lawyer or a notary public to make an advance care plan. For many people, going through our 3 simple steps (Think, Talk, Plan) and then sharing the results with the people they trust is all they need. However, if you have a more complex plan, (for example, you may wish to name more than one person as your formal representatives) you may want to look into some legal assistance. Check out Healthcare Decision Making and the Law for more information.
What about if I have dementia? Can I still make a plan?
People living with dementia can still make a plan – in fact, we recommend it!
As long as you are capable of making an informed decision about your own care, you will be asked what your health care wishes and treatment preferences are. The decision-making abilities of people living with dementia can be impacted by many things including the progression of dementia over time. Therefore, it’s best that you start your advance care planning as soon as possible. Here are some resources that might be useful.
Can I add my organ donation wish to my advance care plan?
Yes, you can, but to make sure your organ donation wish is respected after you die it is important that you register yourself as an organ donor in the BC Organ Donor Registry. BC Transplant oversees all aspects of organ donation and transplant across BC and manages the BC Organ Donor Registry. You’ll find all the information you need (including how to register as an organ donor) on their website: transplant.bc.ca
What about medical assistance in dying (MAiD)?
Along with other eligibility requirements and safeguards, only you can request and consent to medical assistance in dying (MAiD). According to the current law for MAiD, you must be capable of making decisions about their health care and able to clearly communicate their consent at the time of the procedure. — The law does not allow substitute decision makers or instructions through an advance directive to give consent for MAiD on your behalf. Find more information on MAiD from the Ministry of Health.
Are there any considerations to keep in mind for Indigenous people about advance care planning?
First Nations people in Canada value community and storytelling. A similar approach to planning ahead for future health and personal care has informed these resources: Your Care, Your Choices – Planning in Advance for Medical Care (a guide to advance care planning for First Nations peoples, including the legal forms), overview of advance care planning (brochure) and a poster on the benefits of advance care planning.