April 22, 2016

Cookies kick start conversation about Advance Care Planning

Renfrew Victoria Hospital championed National Advance Care Planning Day on Friday, April 15, by handing out ‘care planning cookies’ to inpatients, visitors and staff.

Inside each fortune-style cookie was one of 17 questions intended to stimulate discussion about living and dying well, and what a person’s wishes would be. For example, they might ask “The things that give my life purpose are…” or “Three things people caring for me need to know about me when I am dying…”

“The cookies are an ice breaker,” says Ann Marie Urbaitis, RVH Palliative Care Program, “because it’s difficult to have these conversations.”

Advance Care Planning (ACP) is all about making decisions now, appointing a substitute decision maker and letting that person know what you would want, so that your health care preferences will be carried out in the future, even if you can’t speak for yourself.

Urbaitis adds that it is much more difficult to make decisions at the time of an illness or critical incident when stress tends to run very high.

“How would your spouse or substitute decision maker know what you want if you don’t talk about it?” Urbaitis asks.

The RVH Ethics Committee and volunteers were on hand to help distribute the cookies and resource materials provided by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association’s Speak Up campaign.

“We’re always trying to connect our ethics committee with staff and the community, so this day was also a way for them to meet in person and an opportunity to promote the work of our ethics committee,” notes Chris Ferguson, RVH Vice President of Patient Care Services.

“This entire day has been a great exercise to bring awareness to everyone in the hospital and initiate some thoughtful conversation about a difficult, but very important topic,” adds Ferguson. “We’re very grateful to the Ethics Committee members and volunteers who helped out.”

Answers to the cookie questions were collected and the results will be posted around RVH to keep the conversation going. “This is very needed because these conversations aren’t happening now,” concludes DeeDee Lepine, palliative care volunteer.

We are committed to providing a safe, secure and respectful environment for our patients, staff and visitors
and will not tolerate any form of violent, abusive or aggressive behaviour.