One conversation can make all the difference, be it with family, friends or your health care team.
Here are tips and conversation starters to help you get started.
How do I talk with others about advance care planning?
Think about the people in your life who give you strength and support, no matter what. They could be your family, friends, spiritual advisors, community leaders or Elders.
Where are you most likely to speak with them – at a family gathering, over a coffee or during a walk?
Use the below examples to get you get started:
- Be straight forward: “I want to talk with you about what is important to me. I want to make sure you understand how I feel so that you could honour my wishes,” or “I want you to be prepared if you had make decisions on my behalf.”
- Use an example: "Pastor Jones was talking about our choices for health care if something happened to us, and I realized that I haven’t told you about my wishes – we should talk about that."
- Find an example from the news: "That story about the family not agreeing about their mom’s care made me realize that we should talk so the same thing doesn’t happen to our family."
- Share your feelings on the subject: “I think it’s really important that the family understands my wishes.”
- “Will you help me think about my future?”
- “Even though I am okay right now, I want to be prepared.”
What do I say to my care provider?
Ask the following:
- “What health conditions do I have?
- “Which of my health conditions are easily treatable? Which are not?”
- “What are some possible complications or treatments I may face in the future?”
- “What happens if the treatments no longer help me?”
- “What should I be doing to plan ahead?”
- “What does my health condition mean for me?”
If you are currently facing a health care decision, the BRAIN acronym may help. Ask yourself:
Benefits - what are the benefits of the treatment being offered?
Risks- what are the risks involved?
Alternatives - what alternative treatments are available to me?
Intuition - what does my gut say?
Nothing - what happens if I choose to do nothing?
If I have a serious illness, how do I talk about it?
What is a medical order for scope of treatment (MOST)?
A medical order for scope of treatment is a medical order that provides direction for:
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), should your heart stop beating and lungs stop working. CPR includes pressing on your chest, pushing air into your lungs, giving medications or using electric shocks to try to restart your heart and lungs.
- Options for medical treatments, including treatment, pain management and specialist consultations.
You will still be asked to provide consent for specific medical treatments offered by your provider. To complete a medical scope of treatment form, please see your primary care provider.
How will I know if I should have a MOST?
We suggest you have a MOST if you live with illnesses that usually get worse over time and do not have a cure. This can include:
- Heart and Kidney Failure
- Lung Disease (COPD)
- Brain Disease (Dementia)
How will my care provider decide on the MOST categories?
Choosing a category that is right for you is a shared process between you and your provider.
Together you will begin with an advance care planning conversation that explores:
- What’s important to you, your values, beliefs and goals.
- Your health and what it might look like in the future.
- The types of treatments that might be and might not be helpful now and in the future.
Can my MOST be changed?
Yes, it can be changed at any time. It is good to review and update your MOST orders at least once a year and if:
- Your health changes or
- You go to hospital
Where is my MOST kept?
You keep it, in a greensleeve, on your fridge at home. You should bring it with you when:
- you visit the Emergency Department or
- you are admitted to hospital or
- you go to any medical appointment
What are life support measures?
Life support measures replace or support a body’s natural functioning. When patients have a treatable condition, life support measures can be temporarily used until the body is able to function on its own again. Though sometimes the body never regains its ability to function without life support.
It’s important to gather the facts when making decisions about life support measures, including the benefits and burdens they will offer you.
Examples of life support measures include: