April 16th is Advance Care Planning Day
Start the Conversation Today About Your Healthcare Wishes for Tomorrow
April 16th is Advance Care Planning Day in Canada
HALIFAX, NS (April 11, 2022) – Throughout April, the Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association is helping volunteers and community groups around the province host various activities, workshops and town halls emphasizing the importance of Advance Care Planning.
Advance Care Planning is the process of thinking and talking about what matters most to you and planning for your health and personal care if you ever get sick, injured, or can’t speak for yourself.
“Advance care planning is not only about final life decisions,” says Colleen Cash, Executive Director, NSHPCA. “It is about talking about what you want regarding your health and quality of life and preparing you and your family if you become unable to make decisions or express your wishes. ACP helps ensure medical, health and personal care decisions incorporate an individual’s priorities, goals, and values.”
In 2021, a Nanos poll showed that 2 out 3 Canadians talked to a family member about ACP. And even though 77% of Canadians thought it was important to speak with their healthcare provider, only 7% had done so. Throughout Canada, the main barrier appeared to be a lack of information and accessibility to resources.
In Nova Scotia, NSHPCA is working to normalize the conversations. Through its volunteer program, the association attempts to reach all Nova Scotians living in either urban or rural areas of the province.
Advance Care Planning can include writing your wishes for future health and personal care in a notebook or a formal written document, but that is not necessary. Having a conversation with people you trust, including healthcare providers, and who will carry out your wishes is the most important. Often, families find themselves in acute care situations having to make major medical or personal care decisions without knowing what was wanted. Emotions run high and vital decisions need to be made quickly. This adds significant stress to an already difficult situation.
“One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the example of open, honest, loving conversations about difficult topics,” says Ann Cosgrove, President, NSHPCA. “When our children are young, we teach them to work hard, be kind, be honest. Wonderful characteristics we value in human beings. But we also need to teach and model how to have difficult discussions. Inevitably, we are all going to say goodbye to loved ones. We need a plan so that parents and children can lovingly support each other when the time comes and be confident that they are making the right decisions for their loved one.”
“Starting the conversation is the first step,” adds Cosgrove. “And know it doesn’t have to happen all at once. So, pour a cup of tea, get comfortable and talk about your wishes for the future.”
The Nova Scotia Hospice Palliative Care Association is a province-wide network of volunteers and professionals who provide compassion, comfort, advice, and care to Nova Scotians with life-limiting illness, their caregivers and loved ones. To learn about what is happening near you or if you want to host a special event on ACP in your community, contact Colleen Cash at email@example.com or call 902.818.9139. NSHPCA will assist you.