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Making an Advance Care Plan

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

"Advance care planning refers to the process of deliberating about your values and beliefs about end of life care and then communicating those wishes to loved ones, your substitute decision maker and health care providers.

Anyone can engage in advance care planning at ANY stage of life. It is a process that plans for the time when you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment and care."

Advance care planning not only honours your values and beliefs but also makes decision making easier for those who will be in charge of making difficult decisions on your behalf, when you are no longer able to. Here are five steps to making your own plan:


Think about what matters to you most. Think about things that make you happy. Think about things and situations that you would dread. Imagine and plan your perfect final days, what you would do, where would you be, who would be with you. How do you want to be remembered? Thinking on these lines should help you discover your deepest values.


Educate yourself about end of life medical terminology and procedures. You can use the "useful info" section below for help.


Appoint a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM). Choose someone dependable, who understands you and knows you well. Have an in-depth conversation with them about your end of life wishes. Make sure you have their permission to appoint them as an SDM.


Talk to your near and dear ones. Discuss your end of life care wishes with them. Be clear about sensitive issues like organ donation, burial method, DNR orders (Do Not Resuscitate).


Write up your Advance Care Directive. You can find toolkits for this in the "useful info" section below. Do not store your directive in a locked safety deposit box. It needs to be quickly accessible in case of an emergency. Make sure your SDM has a copy of it.

Here's a great video to summarise the five steps of Advance Care Planning

You may never need your advance care plan – but if you do, you’ll be glad that it’s there for you. If you have any questions about advance care planning, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment.


Healthcare Consultant, in4MED

Useful Info:

Advance Care Planning Kit - Ontario Edition

Definitions of commonly used End of Life Care terminology

Substitute Decision Makers (Who decides for you if you cannot)

Making your own Advance Care Plan

Helping someone else make their Advance Care Plan


Advance Care Planning

Ontario - Speak Up

Dying With Dignity Canada - Making an Advance Care Plan

Hospice Palliative Care Ontario - Health Care Consent and Advance Care Planning

The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.

*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.

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