Advance Care Planning
Make your wishes known
Advance care planning is the process of clarifying how you want to live—and telling loved ones—so that everyone knows what treatments, medications, and interventions are right for you. Adults of every age can benefit from thinking and talking about what they want for their health future.
At Vancouver Clinic, caring for patients is our first priority. We were one of the early adopters of Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest and continue to support advance care planning because we know how much it helps our patients and their families. We offer multiple classes every month:
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the fourth Wednesday of every month
- Noon to 1:30 p.m., the second Thursday of every month.
All classes are held virtually. No classes on holidays. For questions or to RSVP for a class, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. RSVPs should be submitted one week before the class date.
You can also learn more about the planning process by exploring the information in the tabs below.
What is advance care planning?
Advance care planning is the process of having conversations to explore and express your wishes about your health care decisions so that others can honor your requests. Ideally, these conversations continue throughout life and allow for the development of a legal document to guide medical decisions. Advance care planning helps ensure that you receive the level of care that you prefer, lets others know what to do if you are unable to express yourself, and gives permission to a trusted person of your choice to act on your behalf.
What is an advance directive?
An advance directive is the oral or written instructions that express your wishes about your future medical care. In most cases it is a written legal document. There are many different types of advance directives. A patient’s medical status may make one option better for them than another option. Some examples of advance directives are:
- Living will
- Durable power of attorney for healthcare
- Physician orders for life sustaining treatment (POLST).
What is a health care proxy?
A health care proxy is someone to whom you give the authority to make health care decisions should you become unable or unwilling to communicate for yourself. This person should be over 18 years old and be capable of:
- Choosing providers or where care is received
- Speaking with your health care team about your condition and treatment options
- Accepting and refusing treatments based on your wishes
- Authorizing an autopsy and arranging for care after death.
This person is listed in your advance directive. There are various terms used to describe this person: health care power of attorney, health care surrogate, representative, and agent.
What happens if there is no advance directive?
If you become unwell and cannot communicate for yourself, doctors will make treatment decisions based on your best interests. This could include treatments that you may not want. If you don’t have a directive, physicians will typically try to locate family members, friends, or clergy to make decisions about your care. They may also use a hospital ethics panel or court to make decisions.
Why is this important for me?
Having conversations, documenting your wishes, and appointing a health care proxy provides peace of mind. It allows you to continue to have a say in your medical treatment even if you are unable to voice it. It enables you to choose the individual who can speak on your behalf in the future. Advance care planning also prevents your family from having to make decisions without knowing what you want, and provides them with the ability to honor your wishes.
How do I get started?
Consider your values and beliefs. Think about what you would want to happen if you could not communicate. Then start the conversation with your family and include your doctor, clergy, or attorney as necessary.
For more information and resources on advance care planning visit: