The Issue

Communicating wishes about future and end-of-life care

According to Advance Care Planning in Canada, 80% of us have given end-of-life care some thought, but less than 20% have an advance care plan. But only 36% say they have talked to their family about their future care plans.

Advance Care Planning (ACP) allows you to reflect on your wishes, values and beliefs, and to communicate them to a substitute decision maker who can speak on your behalf if you are eventually unable to do so.

Our Action

Raise awareness about how and why to engage in advance care planning

Compassionate Ottawa helps people and their communities start conversations about the values, wishes and beliefs that go into ACP. We do this by conducting workshops with trained volunteer facilitators to raise awareness of the issues. These issues include the need for ACP, how to choose and inform a substitute decision maker, and the types of decisions that may need to be made to maintain a meaningful quality of living until the end of life.

While we are unable to assist individuals in preparing their own ACP, we can refer them to people and resources that will provide what they need.

Our Impact

Conversations about end-of-life wishes

People who engage in ACP are more likely to have their wishes known, and followed, at end-of-life. The result is less fear, stress, and anxiety for both themselves and their families, and higher satisfaction with their quality of living and care.

Our ACP workshops are very effective in starting conversations about ACP: 86% of participants report that they spoke to someone about their wishes, values and beliefs for advance care after attending a session; 71% designated a substitute decision maker; and 71% made a record of their own ACP.

In future, we would like to reach more diverse communities within Ottawa, as well as involve people of all ages and stages of life.


Members of our communities often share stories of how they learned about the need for ACP. Sadly, it was often too late.

At one of our community workshops, a young woman commented that she had lost her husband suddenly. She said one of her biggest regrets was that she never had the opportunity to have a conversation with him about his end-of-life wishes. She thought, because they were young, they would have more time.

At another, a woman commented that she had missed the cues her mother was giving her about how she wanted to die. In the past, her mother had made comments about not wanting to die in a nursing home, but the daughter didn’t want to talk about it and said everything would be alright. It was only after her mother’s death that she realized her parent had wanted to talk about ACP wishes.

Get involved

Contact us to learn or to attend or organize an ACP workshop, or to receive training as a volunteer facilitator.

For more information

You can download a PDF with more information from Compassionate Ottawa about advance care planning in our resources section.

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Resource materials

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