Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning is important for everyone, but it is especially important for those with a life-limiting illness such as kidney disease. It includes thinking about, talking about, and documenting your wishes for healthcare if you can’t communicate or make healthcare decisions on your own. It’s a process that can help you make healthcare decisions now and for the future to make sure your voice is always heard.

Think about your values, wishes, and goals for your healthcare and what’s important to you. Ask yourself:
  • How do I see my health at the moment?
  • What makes my life meaningful or worthwhile?
  • When I think about my future, are there things I worry about?
  • What have I talked with my family about? What might I want for my future (including end of life) care?

Choose someone to make personal and healthcare decisions, and speak on your behalf. In Alberta, this person is called an agent.  Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing an agent:

  • Who knows your wishes best?
  • Do you trust this person to make health care decisions with your healthcare team based on your values and wishes?
  • Have you spoken to this person and are they willing to take on this responsibility?
  • Can this person communicate clearly and make hard decisions under stress?

Talk to your agent and family about your future healthcare wishes. This is likely the most important step in advance care planning and can help avoid conflict around healthcare decision making. As your healthcare wishes may change, it’s important to communicate changes with your agent.


Talk to your healthcare team about your wishes. A member of your healthcare team can talk with you, your agent, and support people to make sure your wishes are heard and documented properly. This is also important so your wishes are properly translated into a medical order, called a Goals of Care Designation Order. This order guides the healthcare team to provide care that meets your values, wishes, and goals.

Once you’ve chosen CKM, your doctor/NP needs to write that you’ve chosen “not to have dialysis” on your order form. Keep your Goals of Care Designation in your Green Sleeve on or near your fridge. The Green Sleeve is a plastic document holder that’s recognized across Alberta—you can get one from your family doctor, NP, or Home Care team. Bring it with you to your appointments and if you go to the hospital. If you ever call 911, you or your family should show them your Green Sleeve.

A will is a legal document which states your wishes about how your assets are divided after your death. You name a personal representative who will represent your estate after your death and carry out your wishes. Your will should be clear, legally valid, and up-to-date. A will comes into effect after you die.

An Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive ensures your wishes are heard and followed while you’re still alive, but because of your medical condition you can’t make decisions.

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint an Attorney. This is the person who you’ve legally named to look after your property and financial matters on your behalf if you can’t in the future because of your medical condition.

A Personal Directive is a legal document that allows you to name an agent. This is the person you trust to make personal and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you can’t in the future because of your medical condition. It documents your instructions for personal and healthcare decisions which you want your agent to follow. Keep a copy of your Personal Directive in your Green Sleeve. Your Personal Directive only comes into effect when you can’t direct your own healthcare. A Personal Directive is a legal document, but you don’t need a lawyer to complete it with you.

Additional Resources

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