What is Advance Care Planning?


Advance care planning means thinking about your values, wishes, goals and priorities for living well and at sharing your wishes with others. It also means thinking about who will speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself. It’s way to give loved ones the confidence to make decisions that reflect what’s important to you during a difficult time.

There are 5 Steps to Advance Care Planning:

  • Think about what’s right for you. What’s most important to you?
  • Learn about the different medical procedures that might be offered.
  • Choose a loved one who is willing and able to speak for you and honour your wishes if you can’t speak for yourself.
  • Talk about your wishes with your Substitute Decision Maker(s), loved ones and health care provider.
  • Record your beliefs, values and wishes–write them down, record them, or make a video.

You will learn about all of this as you work through this interactive workbook.

acp_poster_2013_finalWhile you can choose whether or not to record your wishes, the most important thing about advance care planning is having conversations about your future health care wishes with loved ones, and thinking about who would be a good Substitute Decision Maker(s) for you – someone who will speak for you and honour your wishes if you can’t speak for yourself. In BC if you formally appoint a Substitute Decision Maker they are called a Representative. Advance care planning is a way to give those who may be required to provide consent for your medical treatments the confidence to make decisions on your behalf when you are mentally incapable to do that for yourself.

In British Columbia, health care providers and substitute decision makers are expected to respect an adult’s wishes for health care that they expressed while capable. Whether you have expressed your wishes in an advance care plan or not, health care providers will make medically appropriate treatment recommendations for you. Depending on the advance care plan you choose, you may need to complete legal forms. These forms can be completed without the assistance of a lawyer or notary public, which will be legally valid if completed properly. You are encouraged to obtain legal and medical advice to ensure the forms and what you write in them will meet your needs and be understood by healthcare providers.

Remember, your plan will only be used if you are not capable of communicating for yourself. You can also change your wishes and Representative(s) at any time.

You may never need your advance care plan – but if you do, you’ll be glad that you have had these conversations.

Browse Advance Care Planning Options

Browse the Advance Care Planning FAQs

The 5 Steps to Advance Care Planning