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Charity Spotlight: CHPCA And Advance Care Planning Canada

May is Leave a Legacy Month and we are shining a spotlight on the Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Association.

May is Leave a Legacy Month and we are spotlighting charities doing important work in Canada. Karine Diedrich is the new Director of Advance Care Planning in Canada at the Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Association.

She recently met with us to help shine a light on the ways the CHPCA is helping Canadians better prepare for illness, ageing, and end-of-life and the impact planned giving can have on a Canadian charity.

When and why was the CHPCA established?

The Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Association was formally established as a national charitable organization in November 1991. We’re pretty excited to be celebrating our 30-year anniversary this coming November!

The CHPCA was established to ensure all Canadians, regardless of where they live, have equal access to quality hospice palliative care—and that remains our vision to this day.

What is palliative care, and why is it so crucial for aging Canadians?

Hospice palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying for patients and those close to them. Palliative care encompasses all issues relating to illness and end-of-life including physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and practical.

It’s our mission to be the national leader in the pursuit of quality hospice palliative care in Canada. We pursue our mission through public policy, education, knowledge translation, awareness, and most importantly, collaboration.

Death and dying is something that we will all go through–whether it’s experiencing the death of a close friend or family or our own death–and we have an opportunity to make sure it’s as peaceful and respectful of everyone’s wishes as possible. That’s what palliative care aims to do.

Who is palliative care for?

Palliative care is appropriate for any patient or family living with or at risk of developing life-threatening illness with any prognosis, really, regardless of age.

It’s about not waiting until the absolute end. The idea is to start making some decisions as early as possible as to what type of care you would want if you weren’t able to live independently. It’s about starting to have some of those conversations as early on in the process as possible.

What do planned gifts mean to a charity like CHPCA?

Planned gifts are an essential aspect of fundraising, especially when smaller donations or regular donations are harder to come by (like we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Charities, in particular, have been hard hit during this time, especially in terms of being able to maintain their services. The demand for a lot of services has increased, and our ability to keep up with that is challenging.

Typically we’d throw major fundraising events that would generate a lot of the funds used to keep the lights on and keep staff employed and volunteers engaged. Since many of those events have been canceled, we’ve had to adapt. As a result, we’ve seen some pretty amazing innovations within our sector to bring those events back to life in different ways.

But it’s really highlighted the need to think of all of the different ways we can work together to support one another, and planned giving plays a key role here.

As charities work over time to adapt and change systems and structures, planned giving will offer us the sustainability and stability we need to continue offering our services across Canada.

You’ve recently taken on the position of Director of ACP Canada. Tell us about this initiative.

Advance Care Planning in Canada has been around since 2008. Over the years, ACP Canada has developed many different resources, including the recently updated national framework.

The framework is used by policymakers, health care organizations, and providers in all provinces and territories to raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning and make it an integral part of quality care.

The current framework guides the work of the ACP initiative in Canada and it really centers around a life planning model and the value of integrating ACP into estate, financial and health care planning. The ACP initiative includes various tools and resources for various professionals, health care professionals, legal professionals, financial planners, as well as patients and their families.

Examples of some of the resources include workbooks, wallet cards, conversation starters, online events, workshops, and links to resources specific to different provinces and territories.

Why is ACP so important for Canadians, especially now?

By planning ahead for your healthcare with an ACP and assigning a Substitute Decision Maker who can speak on your behalf you’ll get the care you want while providing peace of mind for those closest to you.

We are living in a time of intense stress and anxiety. A lot of us are not able to grieve the way we usually are. We are surrounded by stories of loss. We are isolated. We may not be connecting with those closest to us as often as we are used to.

Making an Advance Care Plan is a way for us to take control of something during a time when we feel out of control. It might be uncomfortable having conversations about “what if I’m not here anymore” or “what if I’m not able to make decisions for myself.” But at the same time, it’s extremely powerful and empowering.

Making these decisions when you’re healthy, takes the pressure off of you and your loved ones and increases the likelihood you’ll get the quality of life you want during times of illness or end-of-life.

Plus, it will give those around them peace of mind, knowing that they understand what you wanted and aren’t burdened with difficult decisions. They’ll have more confidence in the ability to make decisions on what’s best for you.

It also takes the pressure off of health care professionals who are trying to do their best and often have to look to substitute decision-makers in certain circumstances.

Having an ACP is a win-win-win for everyone, and supports the health priorities of the patient, and promotes people-centered care.

How can someone get started with preparing their own Advance Care Plan?

Go to https://www.advancecareplanning.ca and download or complete your workbook online.

Remember to follow the five steps to Advance Care Planning:

  1. Think

  2. Learn

  3. Talk

  4. Decide

  5. Record

These don’t have to happen in any particular order.

ACP isn’t about planning for every specific scenario, it’s about taking into consideration a person’s thoughts, values, and wishes. You can’t plan for every single possible treatment option you might need, but you can have discussions about what’s important to you. ACP isn’t about dying; it’s about living!

It’s also a good idea to review your ACP every once in a while to make sure it still reflects your wishes.

Learn more about ACP

To learn more about the CHPCA and Advance Care Planning (and to get started on your own):

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