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Advance Care Planning

What are Advance Care Planning (ACP) Conversations?

  • Advance Care Planning (ACP) conversations are a way to think about what is important to you, what you value in life and about your health
  • Advance Care Planning is about knowing who your Substitute Decision Maker(s) (SDMs) would be if you are not capable of making health care decisions for yourself
  • Advance Care Planning is NOT about making decisions about your health today. It is to help SDMs understand what is important to you. This information that will guide them in making health care decisions on your behalf in the future should the need arise.
  • Communicating what is important to you, what you value in life and about your health can help prepare your SDM and you to make health care decisions in the future

Why have ACP Conversations?

  • You will be able to share what is important to you, what you value in life and about your health
  • You will be more likely to receive the care that you identified as important to you
  • Your SDM(s) will understand what is important to you so they can make the best decisions for you in the future should you ever be unable to make decisions for yourself

Who is your Substitute Decision Maker (SDM(s))?

  • In Ontario everyone automatically has a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM)
  • Your SDM is your closest living family member unless someone is legally appointed
  • There might be more than one person at the same level. For example, if you don’t have a spouse or partner, but have 3 children, all 3 children are your SDM(s). In the future, if you are not capable, all 3 would need to agree on any healthcare decision.

See the table below for the rank order of people who could be your SDM(s):
(ranked by decreasing order of authority)

Court Appointed Guardian  Legally Appointed SDMs

Attorney for Personal Care
Representative Appointed by Consent and Capacity Board

Spouse or Partner

Automatic Family Member SDMs

Parents or Children

Parent with Right of Access Only

Siblings

Any Other Relative

Public Guardian and Trustee

SDM of Last Resort

Recreated from Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act. 1996