About Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to help people get the medical care that they want and need when they need it most. We want to help people to preserve their dignity, wellbeing and relationships whether they live or die. We want to help those in decision-making roles to feel confident about their decisions, and reduce the stress and anxiety that too many feel due to lack of information, education, and preparation.

Our Vision

To provide an easy-to-use tool to help people discover their values, define their goals, and communicate their wishes with their loved ones, decision-makers, and healthcare providers.

Our Story

Plan Well Guide was born out of a sincere interest to help people think ahead and plan ahead so that they enjoy a high-quality life and death. Daren Heyland, ICU doctor and creator of Plan Well Guide, saw how ill-prepared many people often were when serious illness and injury occurred. Time after time, he would experience first-hand how families of critically ill patients would often get extremely stressed over the burden suddenly placed upon them, to make life and death decisions on behalf of their loved one. Daren couldn’t help but think how all of this extra stress and anxiety could have been prevented by preparing in advance for serious illness. Informed by more than 20 years of research in communication and decision-making, he developed Plan Well Guide to act as an online tool to help people think ahead and be ready to discuss with doctors their values and preferences for life-sustaining treatments if they became seriously ill.

For Daren, this challenge was particularly personal. In his mid-50’s, he had a mother-in-law with severe frailty. She is the reason Plan Well Guide became what it is today.

Daren’s mother-in-law’s family doctor asked her about her medical plan in the event of serious illness. At the time, Daren was developing new tools to help people clarify their values, or what’s important to them when they get seriously ill. He took this opportunity to try out these tools with his mother-in-law.

He and his mother-in-law sat together and watched an explainer video about CPR that he created, and then they discussed things in more detail together. They came to a shared conclusion about the medical care that would be best for her at that time in her life. After this, he wrote a brief consult letter to her family doctor explaining the process they had gone through and their conclusions. A few weeks later, he got a request from his mother-in-law’s family doctor. She was asking if he would consider going through this process for her other patients.

So, with the help of his wife, Becky, Daren began the process of helping people prepare for making decisions about their medical preferences. Throughout this process, he realized that patients kept having the same questions about medical planning over and over again:
What’s the difference between terminal illness and serious illness?
What information do I need to make an informed decision?
What are the different types of medical care?
How do I communicate what’s important to me?

Through these observations and encounters we created the first version of Plan Well Guide, which was based around providing answers to all these questions and helping people make informed, value-based decisions about their medical care.

Since then, we’ve gone through numerous trials, testing, iterating and improving, and we now have Plan Well Guide as it is today. Our mission is to help as many people as possible be prepared for the event of serious illness.

Our Team

Dr. Daren Heyland, Founder

A critical care physician, Professor of Medicine at Queen’s University and internationally renowned researcher, Daren is also the founder of Plan Well Guide.

After years of seeing patients and their families come into the ICU and feeling unaware and ill-prepared for how to make life and death decisions regarding their medical care when they were seriously ill, he knew he wanted to help people bridge the gaps between planning and process. Over the last several years he has been focused on developing and enhancing Plan Well Guide as a means of empowering people to be managers of their own advance serious illness planning (ASIP) by providing them with the knowledge and communication tools to effectively collaborate with clinicians to make decisions about their medical care. With the realities of the pandemic impacting thousands of people’s lives, he firmly believes how important it is now more than ever before that everyone make their ASIP, ASAP.

Kathryn Perry

A seasoned marketing professional, Kathryn also has extensive experience in knowledge mobilization and health communications.

With a previous career based in the fast-paced agency life in Toronto, she is familiar with how important it is to plan and be organized. Since working with Dr. Daren Heyland in 2019, she has grown to truly understand why planning is critical for anyone, no matter what stage of life they are in and is proud to promote advance serious illness planning as a part of her day-to-day communications within the Plan Well Guide team. Kathryn grew up in Eastern Ontario and has a degree in Psychology along with a post-graduate diploma in Marketing and Public Relations. She is responsible for building the profile and promoting Plan Well Guide along with engaging various stakeholders and influencers, to help raise awareness of Plan Well Guide.

Kaden Wood

An eager computer information professional and software product manager with big hopes for Plan Well Guide.

Since becoming a part of the Plan Well Guide team, Kaden has quickly realized how important planning is and how much peace and confidence it can bring to someones lifestyle. He works tirelessly to provide the best possible experience on our website. Kaden grew up and went to school in the southern part of Alberta, Canada where he had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Daren Heyland after graduating with a degree in Computer Information Technology. He has been responsible for user experience design, development coordination, and product management.

Jessie Stilson

A self-proclaimed nerd, marketing professional, and start-up enthusiast. Not necessarily in that order.

Being a classic Type A personality, Jessie is no stranger to planning. Obsessed with whiteboards, calendars, checklists and notebooks, Plan Well Guide was a natural fit for Jessie’s first career after graduating. Armed with a Bachelor of Management from the Dhillon School of Business, co-operative education and experience as a student-entrepreneur, Jessie is ready to take on her role as marketing specialist. Jessie stays busy with various design projects, market research projects, copywriting, and strategic planning.