Today (April 16) is National Advance Care Planning Day, an annual event to raise awareness about detailing what kind of care you wish at the end of life and to confirm a future substitute decision-maker who can communicate your wishes and beliefs about future health care, and make decisions when you are no longer mentally capable of doing so. In this conversation, Lee Fairclough, VP for Quality Improvement at Health Quality Ontario, and Kathy Kastner, a long-standing advocate and coach for appropriate end-of-life care and planning, discuss this issue.
Lee Fairclough: In the last few years, we have seen many campaigns in Ontario and across Canada raising awareness about advance care planning. These campaigns are having an impact. Findings from the 2017 Commonwealth Fund International Health Planning Survey of Older Adults showed more senior Ontarians have had discussions relating to issues of advance care planning and substitute decision making than almost any other country or jurisdiction in Canada. That study found that:
• 70% of older Ontarians report having a discussion with family, a close friend or a health care professional about what health care treatment they would want or not want if they became very ill or injured and could not make decisions for themselves
• 47% of older Ontarians report having a written plan or document describing the health care treatment they would want or not want at the end of their life
• 70% of older Ontarians report having a written document that names someone to make treatment decisions for them if they cannot make decisions for themselves
As a society, we are thinking more about dying and end-of-life care as well as earlier and more effective palliative care.