National Advance Care Planning Day:

Who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself?

April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day. What is Advance Care Planning? It is a series of important conversations and decisions surrounding who will make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so on your own and what your wishes are for your own end-of-life care.

Advance Care Planning in Ontario is a two step process:

Step 1

Deciding who will make future health care decisions for you if you are unable to – this will be your Substitute Decision Maker (SDM). In Ontario there are two ways to determine your SDM:

  1. Confirming your automatic SDM. Many people do not realize that even if you have not named a SDM, your health care provider needs to obtain consent for your care from someone. If you have not named someone, your automatic SDM will be determined by the Heath Care Consent Act hierarchy. 


    2. Choosing someone else to act as SDM by preparing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care 

Step 2

Discussing with your SDM (and loved ones) your wishes, values and beliefs and anything else that will help your SDM understand how you would like to be cared for in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Advance care planning conversations can be difficult. There are many important decision to make and many people put off these conversations because they currently in good health. However, it is important to start these conversations early and the best time to have them is when you are healthy, not under stress and well informed.

This video outlines some things to consider when you are deciding on who should be your SDM:

To support local residents with the resources needed to have these important conversations, the Waterloo Wellington LHIN Board of Directors approved a three year investment of $1.2 million in 2015 for Hospice of Waterloo Region to develop Advance Care Planning Waterloo Wellington (ACPWW). The locally lead initiative is aimed at engaging residents and health service providers in the importance of advance care planning and providing important resources that will assist residents in identifying their SDM and sharing their end-of-life wishes with their families.  In a local survey conducted by ACPWW, 93% of respondents indicated that they believed having advance care planning conversations earlier makes it easier for their loved ones. To date, ACPWW has distributed over 9,000 resources on ACP to local health service providers and residents.

ACPWW is working to uncomplicated the process of advance care planning and their new website is a great place look for more information and resources on how to get started with your own advance care plan.

Visit or contact Program Lead, Sheli O’Connor for more information.


Read Glen's experience with Advanced Care Planning.