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Advance Care Planning

Conversations Matter

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Decisions about Goals of Care designations usually come up through conversations between you, your agent or loved ones, and your healthcare team.

It helps to think and talk about your own wishes for healthcare in case you’re ever not able to tell your loved ones or healthcare team what your wishes are. If you became really sick tomorrow, would your loved ones or healthcare team know what your wishes were?

Here are some starting points for your own conversations:

  • My wish is to use all medical therapies including resuscitation (such as CPR) and artificial life-sustaining treatments (such as machines and medicine) in an intensive care unit, to keep me alive if at all possible. (R)
  • How long I live is more important to me than my recovery or changes in the quality of my life. My wish is for full medical care but without using resuscitation or artificial life-sustaining intensive treatments, if these are unlikely to make me live longer or restore me to a certain quality of life. (M)
  • My wish is for healthcare to focus on my comfort and lessen suffering. I would like medical care that focuses only on my quality of life. I would rather not be kept alive by medical treatments, resuscitation, or artificial life-sustaining intensive treatments. (C)
  • I accept treatments that try to fix problems, but if I’m not getting better or going to have a certain quality of life, I would want to switch to focusing only on my comfort and letting my death happen naturally.

It’s important to me to talk about what I mean by quality of life.

  • Under what circumstances would I not want to be kept alive by medical treatments, resuscitation, or intensive care?
  • What kind of changes to my health or life might affect my wishes later on?

When are Goals of Care Designations talked about or changed?

Your healthcare team will talk to you about the goals for your care:

  • when you’re admitted to a hospital or care facility
  • before you have surgery
  • when you’re transferred from one healthcare facility to another
  • if you come to an emergency department or urgent care centre
  • at your yearly check-up with your family doctor
  • any time there’s a change in your health circumstances
  • whenever you’re writing or reviewing your advance care plan

In most cases, you, your agent, your loved ones and your healthcare team will agree about the Goals of Care designation that's most appropriate for you. However, if there is a time when reaching an agreement is hard to do, there is a dispute resolution process in place to help support decision-making. Ask your healthcare provider for more information.

The Goals of Care designation order is documented on an Alberta Health Services form by your doctor or nurse practitioner. It’s recognized across healthcare services.

Your Green Sleeve

Picture of a Green Sleeve  

Your Goals of Care Designation, along with a copy of your Personal Directive and any other advance care planning documents is kept in a plastic Green Sleeve. Keep your Green Sleeve on or near your fridge, as that is where healthcare providers such as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will look for it if they come to your home.

Any time you go to the hospital or to any healthcare provider, take your Green Sleeve with you,—and be sure to take it with you when you leave. Your Green Sleeve is an important part of communicating your advanced care plan and Goals of Care Designation.

Ask your healthcare provider how to get a Green Sleeve.

Current as of: April 2, 2018

Author: Palliative and End of Life Care Team, Alberta Health Services