You can choose to not leave any instructions or wishes about your personal care decisions. If you do this, anyone who makes personal care decisions for you must base them on what they know about your values and beliefs.If they do not know you well, they must decide based on what they think would be in your best interests.
Talk to your health care providers about these instructions so they can give you good information about health conditions and treatment options.
You may say in your personal directive what instructions or wishes about personal care you want to be followed. Three definitions to remember are:
- “Personal care” includes health care, nutrition, hydration (fluids), where you live, clothing, hygiene, safety, comfort, recreation, social activities, support services. It can also include other things. It can include decisions about whether you live in a continuing-care home or at home with home care services.
- “Health care” means any examination (test), procedure, service, or treatment that is done for a health-related purpose. It includes a course of health care or a care plan.
- “Health care decision” includes instructions you give, for example, consenting to or refusing care or treatment, or withdrawing your consent to health care.
In your personal directive, you may instruct your delegate to refuse any kind of health care(for example, CPR, antibiotics, blood transfusions, artificial hydration and nutrition, and nutrition and liquids to drink). Health care providers must respect these wishes.
You may include an instruction to ask for any kind of personal care, but requests cannot always be followed.For example, the hospital might not have a technology you want to be used, or a nursing home you like might not have a bed for you. However, if you add these instructions, your wishes are more likely to be followed.
Be as clear as possible in your instructions or wishes. Say what kinds of care you do or do not want and when. For example:
“I do not want blood transfusions under any circumstances.”
“I want to be given a vegetarian diet at all times.”
“I want to live at home as long as I can afford to do so.”
Medical assistance in dying and organ donation
Your family and doctors cannot legally follow an instruction to give you medical assistance in dying (MAiD). To learn about MAiD go to canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/medical-assistance-dying.
Health care providers cannot legally follow an instruction to take some or all of your organs or tissues for living organ donation.
Some health care practices can make your organs more useful for transplantation after your death. You can leave instructions in your personal directive that you want these kinds of care while you are still alive.
The law about organ and tissue donation (Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act) changed in Nova Scotia on 18 January 2021. The law says you are deemed to have agreed to donate your organs and tissues after you die. This is called 'deemed consent'. If you do not want to donate your organs and tissues you can opt out. To learn more about organ and tissue donation after death go to www.novascotia.ca/organtissuedonation and nshealth.ca/legacy-life