Written May 23, 2017 by Ken Alexander (Quesnel Cariboo Observer Reporter)
Quesnel & District Hospice Palliative Care Association (QHPCA) board president Louise Scott and board member Carol Weremy want people to talk to their families about their wishes before they are unable speak for themselves during an end-of-life crisis.
It’s an important issue that needs to be talked over with family and documented, Weremy says, adding it takes pressure off family members and it ensures loved ones’ wishes are followed when they can no longer make important decisions.
The QHPCA hosted a workshop on Advanced Care Planning in Clayton’s Funeral Home April 19.
The workshop, which attracted 18 people, was funded by a grant from the BC Center for Palliative Care.
Retired Intensive Care Unit nurse Anne Lloyd and G. R. Baker Memorial Hospital social worker Deborah Pedersen volunteered their time to speak about their experiences at the workshop, Weremy notes.
“I guess the whole point of the evening was to tell people to think about what they want when they can no longer speak for themselves, and talk about those concerns with their families and their loved ones.”
Scott just filled out an Advance Care Planning workbook that helps people document their feelings and wishes about end-of-life situations. The QHPCA president adds she feels relief now that she has everything documented. “It asks important questions, such as how important is it that I be comfortable and suffer as little as possible – from not mattering at all to mattering a lot.
“How important is it that I live as long as possible? Well, it depends on what my life is going to be like – if it is extending it… just let me go. It’s those kinds of questions.”
The workbook takes people through a series of questions that will clearly document their wishes if they are in a terrible accident and whether they would like their lives to continue with a feeding tube and being hooked up to machines.
The workbook also clearly sets out who the person wants to be their substitute decision maker, or if there is more than one substitute decision maker, information on that person would also be documented.
Scott and Weremy modified the workbook from the one the BC Centre for Palliative Care provided them. Weremy says they’re thinking about modifying it again to make it more user friendly.
“We wanted to do the Advance Care Planning workshop because we find that in a hospital setting, people are in crisis and all of a sudden they realize, ‘I can’t speak for myself any more, but my family doesn’t know what I want’.”
People are put on respirators and have feeding tubes, and that might not be what an 85-year-old person would like, Weremy says, adding they’re kept alive unnecessarily. Once the document is completed, the next step is to talk to your family about the decisions you have made, Scott says.
It may not be comfortable to talk to family members, but it is necessary for peace of mind, Scott says.
Weremy notes people can register the document at a hospital where it will be filed and used when they come in during a crisis situation.
“People can also wear alert bracelets which indicate the owner has an Advance Care Planning document to be followed.
Folks can check out the form and more Advance Care Planning information by going to the Quesnel & District Hospice Palliative Care Association’s website (www.qdhpca.org) and clicking on Helpful Resources.
Weremy and Scott plan to have another workshop in September and they will be advertising it in the Observer, their website and on Facebook.
Right to left: Carol Weremy & Louise Scott