In the Guide to Exploring, you are making your advance serious illness plan based on your current age, health and values. If things change as you age or develop a new health problem, you can always update your plan in your future.
Once you complete the Guide to Exploring and have your ‘Dear Doctor’ letter, you now have a script to follow if you were to get sick and have to go to hospital. The letter will be helpful in future situations when talking to an ER or ICU doctor. We also recommend that you take your Dear Doctor Letter to your family doctor, if you have one, and discuss it with them now in case you are too sick to discuss it with them in the future. Mostly likely, when you become seriously ill, you won’t be able to talk or think for yourself. It is important to name a representative to make healthcare decisions.
We have created the Guides to Equipping and Entrusting to help you choose a suitable representative and equip them with instructions in the event of you becoming seriously ill. The Guide to Equipping creates a Dear Representative Letter as well as the province-specific legal documents needed to appoint your representative. Your representative will then use the Dear Representative Letter to make medical and personal care decisions on your behalf, respecting the instructions you’ve equipped them with. The Guide to Entrusting creates instructions that will be helpful to you in working with your Lawyer to finalize a power of attorney so your financial representative can make financial decisions for you in a way that minimize risk of abuse or misuse of your funds when you are vulnerable.
The Dear Doctor Letter generated in the Guide to Exploring is not a legal document, however it is a helpful tool in communicating your healthcare preferences with your doctor and your loved ones.
The Guide to Equipping creates a province-specific legal document (Representation Agreement in BC, Personal Directive in AB, etc, for example) that names the person that will be your representative for personal and medical care. Their instructions are enclosed in the “Dear Representative” letter, which is not a legal document.
The Guide to Entrusting does not produce a legal document but rather, produces instructions in the form of a “Dear Lawyer” letter. You will need to take this to your lawyer to get your power of attorney finalized (or revised) and it becomes legally binding when finalized by your lawyer.
That’s ok. It is not likely that it will be “your family doctor” that treats you when you are seriously ill. It will be some other doctor working in ER or ICU. But these doctors treating you will also appreciate the insights in your plan. The plan is not only important to doctors, but also to you. This plan will help you clarify what your values and preferences are and make it easy to share them with your family and your Representative.
If you need help from a doctor finalizing the content of your Dear Doctor letter, please reach out to Dr. Heyland who is available to meet with you via zoom to assist you. Consult a Doctor
It’s your life (and death). You will be the person potentially experiencing a medical event, and ultimately your wishes are what’s most important. But, you will want to take into consideration their wishes and feelings too. It is far better to address disagreements while you are alive and well than to leave it for them to figure out when you are too sick to speak for yourself. If you need professional help coaching you or guiding you so you all ‘get on the same page’, see our “Getting Help” menu for help.
The Guide to Equipping educates you on what a Representative does and how to choose one to help you make medical and personal care decisions if you are unable. We also go one step further and actually prepare them to best represent you when you are not able to speak or think for yourself.
The Guide to Entrusting will coach you through the process of selecting the best person to manage your financial affairs if you are not able and how to set forth instructions to prevent abuse or misuse of your funds when you are most vulnerable.
Within the dashboard, you will be able to share your documents with family members, friends and trusted advisors. You may email your documents, or if the person also has a Plan Well account, you can share your documents directly within the platform.
The Guide to Equipping also includes a personal wallet card that stores your documents for emergency access. Your planning documents will be viewable by anybody who scans the code on your card.
At the moment, we are providing a print-at-home wallet card. This will be emailed to you shortly after you complete the Guide to Equipping if you request it.
We talk about in the planning process how you will likely want to change your plan, as you age or as your health changes. With your account, you can log back in at any time and update your plan and recreate your “Dear Doctor” and “Dear Representative” letters. Please make sure to share the updated versions with your loved ones, representatives, and family doctor!
Advance Care Planning (ACP) is most effective when you can predict the circumstances of when and how you will die. It does not, however, do an effective job of planning when you don’t know what the medical outcome will be. That’s where Advance Serious Illness Planning (ASIP) comes into play. ASIP allows you to better understand the medical treatment options available, reflect on what’s most important to you with respect to future care, and document those values and preferences. For more on the difference between ACP and ASIP, check out this blog.
We understand how this can be difficult. You can’t predict what serious illness you will contract or when or what will happen to you. That’s why we try and educate you on the process of serious illness decision-making and try and coach you on ‘being in control’ of the part that you can control. That is, your authentic values and informed treatment preferences. These are integral to future decisions that will be made about your medical care when you are seriously ill. You may not be able to control many things about your future serious illness, but you can control how ready you (or your Representative) are to share your values and preferences.
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