How to use this site

Serious illness is the kind of illness that requires you to be in the hospital, like a bad pneumonia, or a major heart attack. When you or a family member are seriously ill, it can be difficult to make decisions.

This website is meant to help you understand the different types of medical treatments and which of these you might or might not want in certain situations. Once you’ve read through the information, you can fill out a brief questionnaire to make a plan or to help someone make their plan. You’ll be able to download your plan, print it and share it with others. It is really important that you discuss this plan with your doctors and substitute decision-maker.

This video shows a conversations between a doctor and a patient talking about wishes for care and how to communicate with family members. You can start the video by clicking on the arrow in the middle of the image below.

*Click CC in the play bar or C on your keyboard for subtitles/closed captions.

How to use the website

Make your way through the website:
Navigate using the tabs on the right side, or by using the NEXT button under the tabs on the right side of the page. We recommend you go through each section in order, starting with “Serious Illness Decision-making”. But do feel free to go back and forth between the tabs to get the information you need. There are questions in each of the sections to help you think about what’s important to you or to a loved one. We encourage you to have a pen and paper handy to write down questions you might have as you go through the website. There will be a place to record these question on the website, so you can ask them to your doctor later on when you visit the clinic.

Make sure you understand the information:
At the end of the “Different types of care” section and after the video about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), we will ask you 4-5 questions to help you see if you understand the information. Please make sure you answer these questions – they will make it easier to think about what’s important to you.

Use the “Make a Plan” tab to create your plan:
In this section, you will log in and create an account in order to make your plan. We will be asking you a few questions about yourself (or about the person you are helping). Your information will be kept confidential and anonymous, and will only be used to help us improve the website. We will not ask for any credit card or payment information. This is a FREE service. If you can’t finish the plan, you can save it and come back to it later, using the ‘Log into my plan” tab.

Download or Print your “Dear Doctor” letter:
Once you’ve finished answering the questions, you will receive your plan as a “Dear Doctor” letter (you can see an example of the Letter here). You can share this with your doctor and health care team, as well as your loved ones. Make sure that you share it with your Substitute Decision Maker, the person who would speak for you if you couldn’t speak for yourself.

Remember, you are not making medical decisions today – you are thinking about what would be important to you (or to the person you are helping) during a serious illness, based on your current health status.

Are you the kind of person that likes to have a lot of information to help you make decisions or just a little information? Our “Quick Guide” provides basic information in each section of the website. Use the full website version if you’d like more information – it has videos, and questions to help ensure that you understand what you’ve read. You can change your mind at any time by coming back to the “How to Use this Site” page.
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