April 16 is Advance Care Planning (ACP) Day but for the Sunshine Coast Hospice, ACP is a year-round initiative.
As the volunteer coordinator of the Coast Hospice’s Green Sleeve program, Jackie Scott has heard all of the reasons people don’t make an advance care plan while they are healthy. It always seems too early–until it’s too late.
An ACP provides first responders, healthcare providers and family members with the directives and care decisions of patients in the event of a medical emergency when patients can’t speak for themselves.
The Green Sleeve, designed with input from local medical professionals and first responders, is a set of resources that facilitates this planning and keeps all formal documents in one convenient, easily recognizable, package. It can be revised and updated anytime.
“Think of the Green Sleeve as a healthcare passport that travels with the patient when they are receiving care,“ says Tess Huntly, executive director of Coast Hospice.
The Sunshine Coast Hospice Society started Green Sleeve in 2020 as a pilot project in collaboration with the Sunshine Coast Division of Family Practice, BC Emergency Health Services, and shíshálh Nation Home Care. It focused on patients living with life-limiting illness and rollout began in 2021 at clinics throughout the Coast, Vancouver Coastal Health home care and the Sechelt Hospital. It’s one of only three such programs in B.C.
Coast Hospice trains a core group of specialist volunteers to support people in completing ACPs when they are grappling with their changing and future needs.
More than 700 Green Sleeve kits have been distributed throughout the Coast. The plan is to put kits into the hands of all Coast residents 50 years and older – about 10,000 people.
Having an ACP in place contributes to improved emotional well-being of both the patient and family. Huntly sees ACP as one more piece in the continuum of palliative care and bereavement support Coast Hospice offers. “The plan becomes a road map for those who may have to make decisions for a loved one, and honouring the choices of someone who is dying can ease the grieving process.”
Coast Hospice conducts workshops and information sessions periodically and will also come to present to organizations and community groups upon request. For more information about Green Sleeve visit coasthospice.com or call 604-740-0475.