When an individual is at the end of life and a natural expected death is anticipated, he or she has a right to make decisions that fit with their values, beliefs and wishes. If you know that death is imminent, a good idea is to have a plan and to let your family, other loved ones and care givers know exactly what your wishes are. You have the right to have your wishes respected.
You may not wish to die in the hospital. You have the right to choose to die in your home if that is what you want. Creating a clear plan will help your family know what they have to do when you die.
There are many things that need to be considered if your choice is to die in your home. You have the right to have medical care and support provided for you, keeping in mind that circumstances may change unexpectedly. Ideally, it is best to establish a relationship with home nursing services and/or home hospice services as soon as you know you will need them.
You will also want to consider signing a “No Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation” form. This is something to consider if you have decided, in discussion with your physician, that attempting resuscitation would be medically futile. Signing such an order indicates to first responders that they should not initiate any resuscitation attempts.
Keep in mind that you can always change your mind and revise any part of your plan at any time. Your situation may change over time and you may want to reconsider your choices.
A form titled “Notification of Expected Death” is completed if you have decided to die at home. A copy of this form is provided to the Funeral Home of your choice. They will have the authorization in place so that your family can contact them directly once your death has occurred so that they can bring you into their care. Your family does not need to notify the Coroner when an expected death from natural causes occurs. They also do not have to call the police.
When an expected death at home occurs, there is no legal requirement for death to be pronounced but families may decide to have a doctor or nurse come to your home to do so.
The time to initiate a discussion about home death is when you are faced with a life=threatening/terminal illness where death is anticipated. This will require open communication with you, your family and your care providers.
For more detailed information, please go to www@.gov.bc.ca and look for Expected/Planned Home Deaths. The Province of British Columbia has developed a “Joint Protocol for Expected/Planned Home Deaths in British Columbia”. This document contains very informative content that will guide you in arranging for care and planning a death at home.