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National Advance Care Planning Day: April 16, 2013 - Canadians Tell Their Stories

OTTAWA, April 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Marjorie Goodfellow knows what she wants – not to die like her mother. Dian Cohen's health care experiences have helped her make some important decisions. And Belinda Hannan has realized that you don't have to be old to die.

These three women have realized the value of advance care planning – but sadly, many other Canadians have not talked to their family or doctor about their preferences for care if they were unable to speak for themselves. The Speak Up campaign aims to change that, with tools and resources designed to get the conversation going.

Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication about personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care. The most important aspects of advance care planning are choosing one or more Substitute Decision Makers - someone who will speak on your behalf and make decisions for you if you are not able to do so yourself – and having a conversation with them about your wishes.

A March 2012 Ipsos-Reid national poll found that 86% of Canadians have not heard of advance care planning, and that less than half have had a discussion with a family member or friend about healthcare treatments if they were ill and unable to communicate. Only 9% had ever spoken to a healthcare provider about their wishes for care.

"People somehow have this superstition that if you talk about it, it might happen," says Dian Cohen, an economist, author and journalist who counsels Canadians on personal money management. "But if we don't speak up, how will others know how to help us? That's an awful burden to leave behind."

The Speak Up campaign has several valuable resources to help Canadians communicate their wishes, including a website (www.advancecareplanning.ca) with workbooks, wallet cards and links to provincial / territorial legislation and planning information. There are also tips and videos to help people begin the conversation.

Belinda Hannan, a social work student at Lakehead University in Orillia who lost a young friend to cancer, says that the experience made her realize that advance care planning is not just for the elderly. "Young people have accidents, get cancer and experience health issues, just like older people," she says. "We need to make their wishes known too," she says. Ms. Hannan now gives advance care planning presentations to her fellow students.

"I've seen a number of people die in a variety of circumstances," says Ms. Goodfellow. "It's helped me understand what I want and what I don't want to have happen to me. Everyone is going to reach the end of life at some point – it's important that we don't burden others with having to make decisions in the dark. Take the time to make a plan and share it with others."

For more information or to arrange interviews with ACP experts/individuals quoted within this release, contact:

Vanessa Sherry, Communications Officer,
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association,
613-241-3663 x229,
vsherry@bruyere.org.

CONTACT: Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, 613-241-3663 x229

Source:Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association