10.1 Advanced Care Plans

Advanced Care Plans (ACP) are part of being “an empowered patient and caregiver” (Dying with Dignity Canada, 2021).

What is Advanced Care Planning?

  • It is engaging in the development of an advanced plan for future health and medical decision-making, in preparation for when you may be unable to make those decisions for yourself.
  • It is about having incredibly important conversations about your values and wishes about illness and end-of-life care, with your substitute decision maker (SDM) (see next chapter section for details) and other loved ones.
  • It is about planning for the future when you may not be able to speak for yourself.
  • It addresses the questions of who will make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • It is about developing a shared understanding with your SDM of your values and wishes to guide them with possible future health care decisions for you, including the refusal of suggested medical treatments.


Paper form with handwriting on it with dark wire-framed glasses.
Refusal of Treatment Form.

What is Involved in Creating an ACP?

Creating an ACP involves 5 things: thinking, learning, deciding, talking, and recording (Advanced Care Planning, n.d.) (See video Advance Care Planning link below for details). Once you have a recorded ACP, it is important to regularly review and update it, to make sure that it continues to accurately reflect your wishes (Advanced Care Planning, n.d.; Dying with Dignity Canada, 2021), and to keep your SDM apprised of any changes. ACPs are part of being “an empowered patient and caregiver” (Dying with Dignity Canada, 2021).

What are the Benefits of Having an ACP?

  • They help ensure that our health and end-of-life wishes are known and can be honoured.
  • They help reduce the stress and anxiety of the person who created the APC.
  • They help reduce the stress and anxiety of loved ones and substitute decision makers (SDMs), who are responsible for making decisions for the holder of the ACP. They can also help reduce caregiver stress and anxiety both before and after the death of the person being cared for.

(Advanced Care Planning, n.d.)

Click the links below to learn more about advanced care planning:

Other End-of-Life Options

Advanced Care Planning: What You Need to Know

VIDEO: Advance Care Planning in Canada – Short From Documentary

This video explains what is involved in advanced care planning.



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On Death and Dying (Original) Copyright © 2022 by Jacqueline Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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