We are all unable to know what may happen to us and what our future medical needs will be. As long as we are able to communicate the choices we make for our medical care, we will be asked to make our own decisions. But some conditions affect our ability to make or to express choices we might make. If severe illness, accident, or the dying process makes us unable to understand or to express our choices, a written plan provides guidelines to family/loved ones and medical personnel who will have to make decisions for us. We can specify which kind of treatments and care would be acceptable to us, based on our values and beliefs; and which types of medical interventions we do not want.
In 2011, legislation in BC was amended to make Representation Agreements a legally binding form of Advance Care Planning. A booklet/download put out by BC’s Ministry of Health called My Voice describes the paper work involved in creating a Representation Agreement, and includes the required forms. It is not necessary to consult a physician or lawyer, and no cost is involved.
The Representation Agreement requires us to specify who we wish to make decisions for us. There is a legally designated order for decision makers if we do not choose one ourselves.
Secondly, the Representation Agreement requests that we write down our values, beliefs and wishes, so that future decision making can be based on these very personal viewpoints.
Thirdly, the Representation Agreement asks for our instructions. These are the kind of choices we might make for ourselves if we were able to, but which our allocated decision maker will have to make for us if we are no longer able.