Patient Pathways, Vancouver

Reasons to Think Ahead

Most of us are not only going to remain healthy and survive this COVID-19 virus and crisis, but also thrive! And, it is important to plan ahead.

I know you’re tired of hearing about COVID-19. I don’t want to add to your frustration and anxiety. I want to help by giving you accurate information, especially around Advance Care Planning. I encourage you to forward this information to loved ones, friends and family – especially those who will be supporting you if you become seriously ill.

I have credible resources and additional links in this resource guide.

There are several reasons why it is important to think ahead about serious and critical illness:

  1. Maybe your routine health care has been disrupted. This should not be taken lightly. Many are waiting for ‘urgent-elective’ surgeries and treatments and current delays may have a serious impact.
  2. Your urgent health care issues may become emergencies. So right now, you need to have contingency plans in place… such as where the safest hospital is and how to get there.
  3. Emergency services may be impacted by this crisis.
  4. If you need prescription refills, consider getting them right now while you can still see your doctor. If you are ill, frail, or immuno-compromised, avoid crowded stores and pharmacies and ensure you have medications (and other healthcare supplies) on hand. The supply chain is intact… it’s a matter of you safely getting these supplies.

This virus is hitting the older population… hard. But this is not just affecting older folk. The media has focused on how many people are dying but they’ve done a poor job in discussing how ill patients are and how long and hard their road to recovery will be. Consider this.

  • In countries strongly affected doctors are having to make some very difficult decisions and are ‘triage-ing’ their patients based on age and co-morbidities (additional disease factors). In the case of COVID-19, pre-existing heart and lung disease are exceptional risk factors.
  • There may not be enough equipment available and physicians may have to choose between putting a 35-year-old or someone in their 70’s or 80’s on a ventilator.
  • If you do not want to be on a ventilator or if you don’t want your loved ones to make this decision, you need to have these conversations right now.
  • If a hard decision must be made, it is important that your decision makers know your values and beliefs.

What level of health care intervention do you want when you become seriously ill? What information about your values, beliefs and preferences for future health care should your future decision makers and loved ones be aware of?

Talking with your loved ones before a medical crisis happens is the greatest gift you can give them. The best place for this to begin is at the kitchen table, not in the intensive care unit, with the people we love.  ‘The Conversation Project

Strongly consider reviewing or completing your Advance Care Planning (ACP) documents immediately.
Have COPIES readily available for First Responders and Paramedics (on the fridge is recommended).

Here is a list of all ACP documents.

  1. Documentation naming your choice for Substitute Decision Makers (varies by province)
  2. No CPR/DNR/No Chest compressions request (with a signed medical) – the form varies by province.
  3. Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment [MOST] or Options for Care medical orders (if you have had these completed during a hospital visit)
  4. Advance Directive (name of Directive varies by province)
  5. Expected Death in the Home [EDitH] [For those nearing end of life]
  6. Enduring Power of Attorney OR Power of Attorney
  7. Registered organ donor status.
  8. Funeral arrangements and after-death care of body instructions
  9. Indicate where your Will and other estate documents can be found.
  10. Indicate where original ACP documents can be found.

In this time, as always, remember to thank your healthcare and neighborhood heroes… and there are a lot of them. This is a time for selflessness and gratitude.

I wish you health.
Be mindful and kind to yourself.
Look for things that bring you joy.
Cherish relationships.
Reach out and talk to the people you love and care about.
/connie/