In British Columbia, the Representation Agreement Act, which came into effect in 2000, is a mechanism by which adults can name a Representative to make decisions for them, if, by reason of injury or disease, they are no longer able to make their own decisions. The person (or persons) designated can make legal, financial, personal care and medical decisions. This Act also states that the Representative(s) must make the decisions in accordance with the person’s expressed wishes and instructions.
If there is no Representation Agreement, the Health Care Consent Act names the next-of-kin as a substitute decision maker for people who are not able to give or withhold consent to medical treatment. This legislation also states that decisions made by the substitute decision maker have to be in accordance with the person’s expressed wishes and instructions.
In situations where conflict between family members is possible, or if your next-of-kin does not share your values and beliefs, it is extremely crucial that you do the necessary pre-planning to address your needs.
It is important for people to consider what treatments they might or might not want under various medical situations should they not be able to direct their own care.
Such instructions are known as advance medical directives — you are making medical choices in advance that only have relevance while you are still living. To address this issue, gather information, consider the options and discuss your thoughts with your family physician, your family, a friend, or a Hospice volunteer.