Introduction to Advance Care Planning

What is Advance Care Planning (ACP):

  • ACP is a process of reflecting and sharing your wishes/values while you are capable of making your own medical and personal care/treatment decisions.
  • ACP is a lifelong process of thinking about what matters to you – your values, goals and preferences – and the care you would like to receive at any stage/age of your adult life.
  • Don’t wait for an emergency to have ACP conversations. These conversations should be part of life’s milestones (for example: getting married, buying a house, having children, changes in living situations) and relationships and health events (upcoming surgeries, being diagnosed with an illness, becoming increasingly frail).
  • ACP is also about talking to the people who matter most to you – and to your health care professionals – about your wishes.
  • ACP is part of life planning, just like financial planning, family planning, career planning and retirement planning, ACP deserves the same attention.
  • 93% of Canadians believe it is important to discuss their wishes for care with family/friends – yet only 17% have an ACP.
  • The more people that know about your values, goals and wishes – the more they can help you get the care you wish for.

What is a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM):

  • If you come to be incapable of making your own care decisions, a substitute decision maker (SDM) will be able to make the decisions that best reflect your wishes/values.
  • The Ontario Health Care Consent Act, includes a hierarchy that provides every person in Ontario with an automatic SDM(s). Even if you have never done a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. The person(s) that are the highest ranked in this hierarchy and that meet the requirements to act as an SDM(s) will be appointed as such.
  • You can prepare a Power of Attorney for Personal Care if you have someone specific in mind (link below).

Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) Hierarchy:

For more information: