Advance Health Directives

 Learn more about Advance Health Directives

An Advance Directive is your own directions about your own health in advance of some medical event happening.

Many people believe this is a Living Will, however, a living will is different in that it is a statement of general values around your health care, such as “I want no heroic measures.”

An Advance Directive provides an opportunity for you to provide written instructions on the types of decisions for healthcare you want in place (to receive or refuse care) should you become incapable and unable to communicate your own health decisions. The document does not appoint someone as a representative to make health care decisions on your behalf, however, your representative or medical personnel can use your advance directive as the rules for which to make decisions about giving or withholding treatments. Under British Columbia law, your health care provider must follow your instructions regarding the refusal of specific health care as outlined in your directive.

Most people understand a common type of an Advance Directive as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order. Examples of other common directives include (but are not limited to): consent or refusal to surgery, blood transfusions, CPR, dialysis, feeding tubes, ventilators, and organ donations.

Advance Directives do not cover all possible health care options. They are best when paired alongside a Health Representation Agreement which allows your representative to use the advance directive and interpret specific health situations to make the best possible decision to respect your directions, values, and beliefs.

If you are not sure if you need an Advance Directive, or how to plan one that meets your needs, please contact us to discuss your unique situation.

Q&A Advance Directive

If you have specific directions or strongly held beliefs around quality of life, end of life, and types of treatments you would or would not want, then an Advance Directive is recommended. Also advanced age or known health risks that would lead to incapacity and a declining quality of life are other reasons to have this document in place. If you are already within the healthcare system in BC, you can discuss with your doctor the MOST Program which has 6 levels of medical intervention. Based on your health condition, you can put in place the range of options from one extreme (of all interventions) to the other extreme (of no interventions) and let natural death occur.

Persons with:

  • advanced age.
  • known health issues and risks.
  • strong values and beliefs around specific healthcare.
  • no trusted person to appoint as a health representative.
  • an interest to provide guiding information to their representative to make decisions.
  • family members who cannot or will not respect treatment plans and end of life decisions.

You can:

  • Stay in charge of the types of treatments you do or do not want.
  • Makes decision making easier.
  • Doctors and medical personnel know what treatments to give or withhold.
  • Help your give your representative the tool to make decision making easier.
  • Reduce the burden of difficult decisions made by a representative or other decision maker.
  • Minimize family dynamics and lessen family fighting and avoid disagreements.
  • Be proactive in managing your own health.
  • Receive care consistent with your preferences.
  • Prevents unwanted care or hospitalizations.

Have questions? Chat with us via phone or email.