What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care.

Advance care planning means having discussions with family and friends, especially your Substitute Decision Maker (In Nova Scotia this person is known as a named delegate) – the person who will speak for you when you cannot. It may also include writing down your wishes, which in Nova Scotia is known as a personal directive.

You may never become incapable of speaking for yourself– but if you do, you’ll be glad that you engaged in advance care planning and that you have had these conversations, to make sure that your voice is heard when you cannot speak for yourself.

How to do Advance Care Planning?

The Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association is pleased to provide a series of resources to assist with advance care planning process. It is recommended that in addition to reviewing and or utilizing some of the resources below that you discuss the process with those close to you, your medical professional and/or legal professional to ensure that you have the supports needed for your specific situation.

First Steps:

Speak Up Nova Scotia – Speak Up Nova Scotia is a series of resources adapted from the national Speak Up Campaign. The purpose of the national Speak Up campaign is to encourage Canadians to begin talking about advance care planning and your wishes should you not be able to speak for yourself.

Speak Up Nova Scotia includes a workbook that provides an introduction to advance care planning in and provides some tips on how to begin the process of advance care planning. The document is consistent with the Nova Scotia Personal Directives Act, which sets out the law around how personal care decisions including health care decisions are made and how you can name a person to make decisions for you.

It includes questions to help you get started, tips for starting the conversation with those close to you, definitions, FAQ’s and a sample template for you to use should you wish to put your wishes in writing.

  • Advance Care Planning Workbook

    Uploaded on: April 8, 2014 | Authored by CHPCA

    The Advance Care Planning Workbook is a general guide that helps you understand what is involved in advance care planning, provides useful definitions, tips and can be used as a first step in the advance care planning process.

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  • Advance Care Planning Canada

    Uploaded on: April 11, 2016

    Main website for Speak Up

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Tips for Starting the Conversation

  • Conversation Starters

    Uploaded on: April 11, 2016 | Authored by Speak Up

    Start the conversation about advance care planning

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  • Death Over Dinner

    Uploaded on: April 11, 2016

    This is an American website, so please be advised there may be some difference in legislation and terminology but, it does contain some useful tips on starting the conversation.

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  • The Conversation Project

    Uploaded on: April 11, 2016

    This is an American website, so please be advised there may be some difference in legislation and terminology but, it does contain some useful tips on starting the conversation.

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Why Do Advance Care Planning?

  • Research indicates that patients who have end-of-life conversations with their doctors and family members are much more likely to be satisfied with their care, will require fewer aggressive interventions at the end of life, place less of a strain on caregivers and are more likely to take advantage of hospice resources or die at home.
  • A 2008 study found that the absence of advance care planning, in all its forms, was associated with worse patients’ ratings of quality of life in the terminal phase of the illness and worse ratings of satisfaction by the family during the terminal illness or in the months that follow death.
  • A 2010 Canadian study of hospitalized, elderly patients identified that providing more support for end-of-life conversations and advance care planning will have a large positive impact on improving end-of-life care in Canada.

Additional Resources

  • Personal Directives in Nova Scotia

    Uploaded on: April 8, 2014 | Authored by Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Justice

    In Nova Scotia, there is legislation regarding an individual’s wishes, and the designation of a substitute decision maker, who is an individual that can speak for you regarding your wishes for treatment and care should you not be able to speak for yourself. The site provides workbooks, forms and other information to help you get started.

    Visit their website Visiter leur site web
  • Videos about advance care planning and end-of-life care

    Uploaded on: April 8, 2014 | Authored by CHPCA

    Watch some powerful videos on the importance of advance care planning and personal stories.

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  • Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia

    Uploaded on: April 8, 2014

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  • Life Events

    Uploaded on: April 8, 2014

    Topic based legal information

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  • It's In Your Hands

    Uploaded on: April 8, 2014

    Legal information for seniors and their families.

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  • Personal Directive Video

    Uploaded on: April 11, 2016 | Authored by Capital Health

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