Castlegar Hospice encourages residents to create advance care plan

The Castlegar Hospice is encouraging anyone over 18 years old to start their advance care planning.

Suzanne Lehbauer. (LinkedIn)

The local hospice is encouraging anyone over 18 years old to start their advance care planning.

As part of national Hospice Week, the Castlegar Hospice Centre hosted a drop-in in last Thursday where Suzanne Lehbauer, executive director of the society, provided information to residents on advance care planning — how to do it and why it’s important.

“Would your family and friends know what to do if you were no longer able to make decisions for yourself? Like especially in terms of health care,” explains Lehbauer. “Would people know what you do or do not want for health services if you’re unable to speak to that yourself?”

The Interior Health Authority provides a resource called My Voice that outlines the steps for creating an advance care plan — which is available at gov.bc.ca/advancecare — but Castlegar residents can also get help creating their plans from Lehbauer at the hospice office, located on the second floor of the Castlegar Health Centre.

Advance care plans include an advance directive, “in which you can put down services you do or do not want in terms of things like CPR or being kept alive artificially,” explains Lehbauer.

In creating an advance directive, individuals can talk to their physicians, who Lehbauer says will likely turn to a list of questions called MOST — medical orders in the scope of treatment. The questions help give physicians an idea of what patients want in their treatment.

The plan also includes a representative agreement, which allows you to designate a temporary substitute decision maker (TSDM).

“That’s someone who can speak on your behalf when you can’t,” explains Lehbauer.

There are section seven and section nine representation agreements. A section seven agreement allows your “representative to make decisions about the routine management of your financial affairs, your personal care, and some health care treatment decisions,” but they aren’t able to refuse life-support or life-prolonging interventions. A section nine representative can make decisions about life support or life-prolonging interventions, but can’t make decisions on financial matters.

Lehbauer emphasized how important it is to choose a representative while you’re still capable of making your own decisions.

“I can speak from experience working in hospice all of these years that I’ve seen families in turmoil because they’re arguing over what they think their loved one would like,” she said.

It’s also important to talk to your family and friends about what you want, ensure that your physician has a copy of the plan and that your family and friends know where your copy of the plan is kept in the event it’s needed.

Lehbauer also recommends a digital will that includes passwords to all of your online accounts.

“That shouldn’t be part of your regular will, because once your will goes into probate, it is public knowledge and then your passwords, etc. would be public knowledge,” she explains.

Lehbauer has digital will templates available at the Castlegar Hospice Society office.

Finally, the plan also encourages people to think, talk about and write down their beliefs, values and wishes.

Contact Suzanne Lehbauer at 250-304-1266 or suzanne.lehbauer@interiorhealth.ca for more information.