Lifestyle

B.C. health care consent laws to allow seniors more control

Recent changes to B.C.’s health care consent and personal planning laws mean seniors now have more options in how they want their wishes carried out in the event of an incapacitating illness.

As of September, any capable adult in the province may make an advance directive for health care decisions.

With an advance directive, seniors can now provide written instructions expressed directly to a physician or other health care provider for the health care they wish to consent to, or refuse in the event they are incapable when the care is needed. Seniors can also provide an advance directive to their health care representative, if they have named one in a representation agreement.

The B.C. Ministry of Health is encouraging all capable adults to discuss their beliefs, values, and wishes for future health care, and take the further step of documenting these using publicly available forms, giving close family or friends and health care providers the confidence they need to respect a patient’s wishes when decisions need to be made on their behalf.

Even without an advance care plan or a representative, B.C.’s health care laws ensure a health care provider will choose someone to make health care decisions on a patient’s behalf, should they become incapable.

The advance directive form is available inside the new provincial advance care planning guide.

• For more information about the new laws, visit www.seniorsbc.ca/legal/healthdecisions.

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